Fewer electrical fires in B.C.: study

Electrical fires of all kinds have declined over the past three years, including those sparked by illegal marijuana grow operations

Forget smart meters

Completion of BC Hydro’s smart meter program has coincided with a continued decline in electrical fires in the province, according to a new analysis of records from the B.C. Office of the Fire Commissioner.

Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis has been tracking residential fire statistics since 2010, for his work as adjunct professor of criminology at the University of the Fraser Valley. After successfully pushing for a 2006 law allowing fire departments to find indoor marijuana grow operations by their electrical usage, Garis has continued to assess the effects of BC Hydro’s smart grid program on preventing fires.

Adding another year of fire statistics, from June 2012 to June 2013, shows a continued decline in electrical fires, including those related to illegal electrical bypasses and hot grow lamps found to be connected with illegal marijuana growing.

Garis noted that the data show electrical fires of all sorts account for only a small part of all structure fires in B.C. Out of 1,801 total residential fires in the latest year available, 150 were found to be caused by electrical discharge. That’s a 12.3 per cent decline since 2011, when the smart meter program began.

The reports show that over three years, only one fire originated on an exterior wall, ignited by an electrical panel board. That was in 2011, before smart meter installation began. There have been no fires attributed to the meter program, with 1.8 million wireless meters installed.

Fires caused by illegal meter bypasses dropped from eight in 2011 to six in 2012 to only three in 2013. BC Hydro has reported that installers located and removed illegal bypasses around the province as part of the smart meter program, and also replaced 1,200 meter bases found to be faulty.

Garis said the results clearly show that people should not worry about their electrical meters, and pay attention to by far the largest sources of house fires: cooking and smoking.

The statistics show that cooking-related fires are on the increase, even as total residential fires have declined in B.C. Of 1,998 total fires reported in 2011, 575 were ignited by cooking equipment. In 2013, total fires declined to 1,801 but the number of cooking fires rose to 621.

Fires caused by smoking declined by 11 per cent for 2013, but there were still 302 fires ignited by smoking materials.

Garis said the statistic of most concern is that 79 per cent of people who died in fires, whatever the source, were in a home without a working smoke detector.

 

Just Posted

B.C. BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

B.C. BUDGET: Payroll tax replaces medical premiums

Health spending to increase $1.5 billion for drugs, primary care teams

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

Nuxalk teams enjoy successful standings in 59th All Native Tournament

After seven days of non-stop basketball, the All Native Tournament came to a thrilling finish

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Hydaburg makes it three in a row

Hydaburg came back from 10 points down in the second half to beat Aiyansh

Kitkatla end 54 year drought with title win

The Warriors defeated Hydaburg 70-67 in overtime to win the 2018 All Native Tournament title

UBCO students to get medical cannabis coverage

Kelowna - The pilot project will be implemented in April

BC BUDGET: NDP push for purpose-built rentals in ‘historic’ $1.6B investment

Hundreds of thousands of new low- and middle-income units coming over three years

B.C. BUDGET: More for wildfire recovery, campsites

NDP government to hire 20 more Conservation Officers this year

B.C. BUDGET: Surpluses predicted for three years

Tax revenues up, ICBC losses weigh heavily on provincial books

Parts of B.C. see record-breaking temperatures in cold snap

Sechelt, Yoho National Park were the chilliest ever Monday

Most Read