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Reports & Data

A solid research program allows programs and services to be developed and delivered based on evidence. To ensure that the programs have a solid, evidence-based foundation, the NIFSC Project is undertaking research in a variety of areas:
  • An examination of the feasibility of creating a new baseline for deaths and injuries due to fire-related events in Indigenous communities in Canada was completed.
  • Research and reporting using existing data to create a demographic profile of at-risk populations and places in Indigenous communities in Canada. This work is being used to prioritize programs and services geographically in Canada.
  • Creation of an evaluation instrument to measure program delivery and outcomes.
    Research on fire-related mortality and morbidity and the creation of an operational report.
  • Research and reporting of fire risk analysis associated with the grading and costs of home and commercial insurance.
  • Research and reporting on a business plan for retrofitting residential fire sprinklers with working smoke alarms.

Research Links

Targeted Residential Fire Risk Reduction A Summary of At-Risk Areas in the United Kingdom
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on October 24, 2018

Reducing fires and saving lives is a mandate for all Fire Services. Globally, many departments have implemented door-to-door campaigns to educate their citizens on fire reduction and safety (TriData, 2009). However, focusing on an entire community is expensive, time consuming, and overall, an inefficient use of limited resources. A 2007 TriData report on best practices in residential fire safety in England, Scotland, Sweden, and Norway identified that “of all the best practices identified in this study, one stands out. To reduce fire casualties in the home, the British fire service is visiting large number of high-risk households [emphasis added] to do fire safety inspections and risk reductions, especially to ensure they have a working smoke detector” (TriData, 2007, p.vi). Similarly, in the publication, the Reduced Frequency and Severity of Residential Fires Following Delivery of Fire Prevention Education by On-Duty Fire Fighters: Cluster Randomized Controlled Study Clare, Garis, Plecas, and Jenning (2012) reviewed best practices from other countries on residential fire safety and concluded that “targeted home visits have produced promising results examining a range of outcome measures, from reduction in rates of fires and fire-related casualty through to increased presence of working smoke alarms when residences were audited” (p. 123).

Targeted Residential Fire Risk Reduction: A Summary of At-Risk Aboriginal Areas in Canada
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on October 11, 2016

Despite the steady reduction in rates of fire that have been witnessed in Canada in recent years, ongoing research has demonstrated that there continue to be striking inequalities in the way in which fire risk is distributed through society. It is well-established that residential dwelling fires are not distributed evenly through society, but that certain sectors in Canada experience disproportionate numbers of incidents. Oftentimes, it is the most vulnerable segments of society who face the greatest risk of fire and can least afford the personal and property damage it incurs. Fire risks are accentuated when property owners or occupiers fail to install and maintain fire and life safety devices such smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in their homes. These life saving devices are proven to be highly effective, inexpensive to obtain and, in most cases, Canadian fire services will install them for free.

Targeted Residential Fire Risk Reduction: A Summary of At-Risk Areas in Tennessee
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on September 16, 2016

Reducing fires and saving lives is a mandate for all Fire Services. Globally, many departments have implemented door to door campaigns to educate their citizens on fire reduction and safety (TriData, 2009). However, focusing on an entire community is expensive, time consuming, and overall, an inefficient use of limited resources. A 2007 TriData report on best practices in residential fire safety in England, Scotland, Sweden, and Norway identified that “of all the best practices identified in this study, one stands out. To reduce fire casualties in the home, the British fire service is visiting large number of high-risk households [emphasis added] to do fire safety inspections and risk reductions, especially to ensure they have a working smoke detector” (TriData, 2007, p.vi). Similarly, in the publication, the Reduced Frequency and Severity of Residential Fires Following Delivery of Fire Prevention Education by On-Duty Fire Fighters: Cluster Randomized Controlled Study Clare, Garis, Plecas, and Jennings (2012) reviewed best practices from other countries on residential fire safety and concluded that “targeted home visits have produced promising results examining a range of outcome measures, from reduction in rates of fires and fire-related casualty through to increased presence of working smoke alarms when residences were audited” (p. 123).

Targeted Residential Fire Risk Reduction: A Summary of At-Risk Aboriginal Areas in Manitoba
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on July 18, 2016

In 2007, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) released a report on “Fire Prevention in Aboriginal Communities”. Within the paper it was noted that the “First Nations per capita fire incidence rate is 2.4 times the per capita rate for the rest of Canada. The death rate is 10.4 times greater; the fire injury rate is 2.5 times greater; and the fire damage per unit is 2.1 times greater” (CMHC, 2007, p.1). These statistics alone identify Aboriginal communities as being at a greater risk for fires. It was also noted in the report that “many Aboriginal communities tend to have a low number of smoke detectors”.

Targeted Residential Fire Risk Reduction: A Summary of At-Risk Areas in Canada
Source

by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on June 17, 2016

Reducing fires and saving lives is a mandate for all Fire Services. Globally, many departments have implemented door to door campaigns to educate their citizens on fire reduction and safety (TriData, 2009). However, focusing on an entire community is expensive, time consuming, and overall, an inefficient use of limited resources. A 2007 TriData report on best practices in residential fire safety in England, Scotland, Sweden, and Norway identified that “of all the best practices identified in this study, one stands out. To reduce fire casualties in the home, the British fire service is visiting large number of high-risk households [emphasis added] to do fire safety inspections and risk reductions, especially to ensure they have a working smoke detector” (TriData, 2007, p.vi).

Smoke Alarms Work, But Not Forever: Revisited Successes and Ongoing Challenges from BC’s Working Smoke Alarm Campaign
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on September 15, 2015

This report builds the 2012 report, “Smoke alarms work, but not forever,” which made three main points: present, functioning smoke alarms save lives; smoke alarm functionality deteriorates with time; and targeted prevention and education efforts increase functioning smoke alarm coverage. The conclusion of the 2012 report was to issue a challenge to the communities of BC to work collaboratively to ensure there is a present, functioning smoke alarm in every home in the province.

Fire Risk in Senior Population Analysis of Canadian Fire Incidents
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on June 18, 2019

This research explores the risk of casualties (fatalities and injuries) among the senior population (aged 65 and over) in the event of a fire compared to the general population. The researchers analysed data available through the National Fire Information Database (NFID). The research also explores variations in risks of fatalities and injuries as a function of life safety systems and analyzes the action and condition of casualties at fire incidents. We then create a forecast of the expected number of casualties based on the expected growth in the senior population.

Structure Fires in British Columbia: Exploring Variations in Outcomes as a Function of Building Height and Life Safety Systems
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on May 10, 2019

This report examines structure fires in British Columbia (BC) that occurred over a thirteen year period to explore variations in outcomes as a function of building height and life safety systems. The study outlines the data definitions that were used to identify the relevant subset of fires that occurred in the province during this time period.

Fires in Canada Originating from Smoking Materials Analysis of Canadian Fire Incidents
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on March 28, 2019

Research over time indicates that smoking materials continue to be a leading cause of residential fires in Canada. With newer data available through the NFID and provincial annual fire reports, this study intends to provide a more recent picture of fire risks related to smoking – including the potential impact of increased e-cigarette use in recent years.

The Influence of Electrical Fires in Residential Homes: Geospatial Analysis Pointing to Vulnerable Locations and Equipment Failures
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on March 18, 2019

Secondary suites are becoming more common as a way to relieve the burden of rising housing prices in British Columbia and basements are often converted for this purpose. However, home owners often circumvent the permission and inspection requirements for these conversions in order to save on expensive upgrades for compliance. As a result, there are many under the radar secondary suites that go uninspected and often do not meet safety standards. In order to limit the increased risks these secondary suites pose, one plan is to send safety inspectors to visit and inspect homes. The purpose of this study is to aid inspectors by determining whether certain jurisdiction types, living spaces in the home (in particular basements), or equipment in the home carry increased risks for electrical fires and should be inspected with higher priority.

Anti-Idling Technology on Fire Service Vehicles: An Evaluation of the Benefits
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on November 2, 2018

This study was designed to support the anti-idling policies of Surrey Fire Service. Two major components were the adoption of fire trucks with Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) and changing behavioural attitudes towards turning off the main fire truck engine whenever possible. As such, the first component of the study aimed to determine the value APUs. Specifically, to estimate the idle time, cost, and greenhouse gas emissions reduced by APU use. The second component of the study aimed to find determinants of unnecessary idling by examining whether idle times were associated with engine type, distance travelled per incident, number of incidents, firefighter crew, and incident type.

Smoke Alarm Response Time: Examining the Relationship Between Working Smoke Alarms, Fire Service Response Times and Fire Outcomes
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on November 2, 2018

This report examines 868 residential fire incidents that were responded to by Surrey Fire Services between March 2008 and April 2018, inclusive, and reported to the British Columbia (BC) Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC). At a high-level, this research was intended to examine the relationship between a working fire safety system, fire service response time, and fire outcomes.

Examining the Relationship Between Firefighter Injuries and Fatalities in the Built Environment: A case for reducing the risk to firefighters through adequate firefighting experience, working smoke alarms and sprinkler coverage in buildings
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on May 24, 2018

The purpose of this study is to describe firefighter injuries and deaths in structure-related fires and to investigate the underlying connection between building properties, including fire safety measures, and their effects on the risk to firefighters responding to a fire event. For the first time, comprehensive fire-related data across Canada is available in the form of the National Fire Information Database (NFID). Using this new dataset, in conjunction with a literature review and an Association of Worker Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) dataset, this report explores the impact of building properties (e.g. construction material, height) and fire safety measures (e.g. sprinklers, fire alarms) on firefighter casualties. For the purposes of this report, casualties represent both injuries and deaths.

Home Cooking Structure Fires in Four Canadian Jurisdictions: Analyses of the National Fire Information Database, 2005 to 2014
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on April 13, 2018

Home cooking structure fires are a significant, yet preventable, public-safety problem.

Analyses of the National Fire Information Database (NFID), which collected and standardized roughly a decade of fire records from seven Canadian jurisdictions (including six provinces and the Canadian Armed Forces), revealed that cooking fires as a percentage of all “determined” home fires did not appear to be lessening from year to year, with cooking equipment consistently leading the list of home fire ignition sources in Manitoba, British Columbia and Ontario (2009 and onwards), and comprising the second largest source of ignition in Alberta, after smoker’s material and open flame.

The Epidemiology of Residential Fires Among Children and Youth in Canada
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on April 13, 2018

The purpose of this report is to detail the epidemiology and burden of residential fire injuries and deaths among Canadian children and youth, aged 0 to 19 years for the ten-year period, 2005-2015. For the first time, comprehensive fire data from across Canada is available in the National Firefighters Information Database. Using this novel dataset, this report explores the impact of residential fires on children and youth in five provinces from 2005 to 2015c. Socioeconomic and geographic vulnerabilities are described within the context of a population and public health framework.

Fire and at risk populations in Canada: Analysis of the Canadian National Fire Information Database
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on April 13, 2018

This research examines the Canadian National Fire Information Database (NFID) to understand more about At Risk Populations (Area of Focus #5 as per the Request for Proposal documentation). The broad focus was to explore what we know about fire-related casualties in Canada and what the protective influences of working life safety systems are. The analysis focused on residential structure fires reported to the NFID between 2005 and 2015, reported by Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. With a focus on non-firefighter casualties, the sample of residential fires included 830 deaths and 4,656 injuries.

Determinants of Injury and Death in Canadian Firefighters: A Case for a National Firefighter Wellness Surveillance System
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on March 8, 2018

Occupational injury is a significant concern facing the Canadian workforce resulting in lost work time and income, medical expenses, compensation costs, and long-term health problems or disability. Previous research has shown health risks associated with employment as a firefighter, and exposure to a variety of injury-related hazards in the course of their occupation. Extreme temperatures, toxic substances, strenuous physical labour, violence and other traumatic events are potential risks that firefighters may experience when responding to emergency situations.

The purpose of this report is to describe injury, disease and death among Canadian firefighters. The report aims to help the reader to understand the causes of injury, disease and death among Canadian firefighters through an extensive review of previous research, as well as a detailed analysis of injury claims data. Claims data from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) and WorkSafeBC for the years 2006 to 2015 for professional and volunteer firefighters are presented to define priority issues for targeted health promotion and injury prevention interventions.

Sprinkler Systems and Residential Structure Fires – Revisited: Exploring the Impact of Sprinklers for Life Safety and Fire Spread
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on February 16, 2018

The purpose of this study is to examine fire-related casualties, fire outcomes, and casualty behavior for fires that occurred in residential properties, and to compare fires that occurred in buildings completely protected by sprinkler systems, with those fires that occurred in buildings without any sprinkler protection. This paper demonstrates that sprinklers significantly reduce fire-related casualties, minimize fire spread, reduce burden on fire departments when intervening, and also demonstrate benefits for the behaviors of building residents’ in the event of a fire.

The Essentials of Leadership in Government: Understanding the Basics
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on February 23, 2018

This book provides a compelling look at the key elements of good leadership, beginning with the importance of a principled inner core.  Based on an easy to grasp model, the chapters explore the behaviours, aspirations, skills and commitments of good government leaders, concluding with a 360 tool to help government professionals assess their strengths and areas for growth.  Commended by a variety of professionals, this text is available here as a free download.

The Right Decision: Evidence-based Decision Making for Fire Service Professionals
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on January 12, 2018

Canadian fire services are key to protecting lives while maintaining our civil infrastructure, but their high capital and labour costs often pose significant financial challenges. They are one of the major budget items for most cities and municipalities. Fire service professionals make crucial decisions regarding the level of service they can provide their communities and the demands they are going to place on those communities.

The Right Decision: Evidence-based Decision Making for Fire Professionals – A Workbook
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on January 12, 2018

The objective of this chapter is to provide you with a basic guide and some tools to design a framework for decision making—such as constructing a strategic plan. Effective evidence-based decision making is tightly linked to an organization’s plan.

Residential Fire Injury and Death Rates in British Columbia: A Statistical Analysis Pre and Post 1975
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on December 8, 2017

With routine changes to building codes, the use of educational campaigns, and the technological advancements associated with smoke and fire detectors and alarms, it is much more common nowadays for homes to have functioning smoke and fire detectors, alarms, and suppression systems. However, this was not always the case for homes built decades ago. Given this, this research note focuses on the risk that older homes and those living in them face from fires and assesses whether there is a greater risk of fire-related deaths and injuries for those living in homes built before 1975 compared to those built after 1975.

Measuring What Matters: Performance Measurement in Local Government Operations
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on October 26, 2017

Analyzing and acting on operational data can lead to major strides in the area of business improvement. Operational data is information that is tracked and provided from dispatch centres, mobile terminals, and databases – just to name a few. These real-time data streams coupled with the ability to properly ingest, process, and analyze the data, grants organizations the power of measurement to help achieve high performance and reduce inefficiencies. Nowhere is this more promising than in local government operations where smooth operation of its services is essential to the backbone of a healthy community.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Hospitalizations and Deaths in Canada
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on October 19, 2017

Given the success in increasing fire safety across Canada as a result of legislative and community-based initiatives and policies related to smoke detectors, there are clear benefits to expanding the scope of the Smoke Alarm Movement to incorporate carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Previous research has demonstrated that accidental CO poisoning can be reduced through a combination of public education, emission controls, warning labels on products, and combination residential CO and smoke alarms (Hampson & Holm, 2017).

Occupational Exposure to Asbestos among Civic Workers: A Risk Assessment of Low-dose Exposure
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on March 22, 2017

Asbestos is a human carcinogen and has been prohibited in many countries around the world. Long-term exposure to asbestos can lead to negative health outcomes including mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural thickening, and lung cancer. The incidence of asbestos-related disease has been increasing in industrialized countries over the past decade. Exposure to asbestos and the risk for developing a serious health condition is dependent on the cumulative dose of exposure to asbestos, measured by the quantity of exposure and the length of time exposed. These diseases often do not present for 20 to 40 years after initial exposure and have poor prognoses. Asbestos poses a potential risk to the general population when it is used in buildings and infrastructure, however this risk is minimized if the dust fibres are left undisturbed.

Life Safety Systems, Fire Department Intervention, and Residential Fire Outcomes: Analysis of 28 Years of BC Fire Incident Reports: 1988-2015
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on September 23, 2016

This report examines 42,701 residential1 fire incidents reported to the British Columbia (BC) Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) between 1988 and 2015, inclusive (22.4% of the 190,564 fire incidents reported over this time). The high-level purpose of this analysis was to examine the significance of the method of fire control and fire safety systems on the fire outcomes (with respect to damage to properties and fire-related casualties). Building on these patterns, this analysis explores the fire outcomes for the specific subsection of areas within residential properties that experienced a disproportionate number fires and fatalities: the living room, the kitchen, and the bedroom. These room-specific findings are discussed with respect to the potential to enhance residential building fire safety in a targeted manner intended to both increase protection for residents and keep the costs of fire protection relatively low.

Distressed Properties: Pathways of Decline and the Emergence of Public Safety Risk
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on May 30, 2016

The intent of this study is to develop an understanding of the forces and factors that trigger and accelerate the decline of residential properties in the City of Surrey, British Columbia (BC), and to create a framework for action that can stem such decline. Identifying residential properties trending toward a distressed state is essential given the effects of declining neighbourhoods and inherent risks to the community. There are numerous implications of declining properties and neighbourhood distress which include heightened fire risk, crime and disorder, and by-law violations at or near such places.

Firefighters and Cancer: Understanding Risk Factors within an Environment of Change
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on July 30, 2015

Numerous scientific studies have documented higher incidence and mortality rates of various forms of cancer among firefighters with some studies examining causative forces and others emphasizing prevention strategies (Daniels, 2014; Daniels, 2015; Pukkala, 2014; ZeigEowens, 2011; Ma, 2006; LeMasters, 2006). This growing body of literature has fuelled various policy discourses related to wellness programs, improved technology, enhanced education and training, and more contentious, presumptive cancer health insurance designations.

Construction Site Fire Safety
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on March 27, 2015

Buildings face the greatest risk from fires during the construction phase. In recent years, there have been several examples across Canada of major construction site fires, including those in Calgary, Alberta in March 2015, Kingston, Ontario in December 2013 and Richmond, British Columbia in 2011.

A Dynamic Risk-Based Framework for Redesigning the Scheduling of Fire Safety Inspections
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on August 14, 2014

This paper introduces a risk-based, data-driven framework for redesigning fire safety inspections. This framework incorporates information about previous inspections performance, the responsible person in charge of the property, the property use, and the structure type. This alternative method for scheduling fire safety inspections takes into account the likelihood of compliance, thus enabling fire services to target their efforts at the most troublesome/highest risk properties for more frequent inspection, whilst reducing the overall inspection workload and potentially allowing an fire service resources to be redirected to other duties.

Intermodal Shipping Container Fire Safety
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on July 24, 2014

More than 16 million shipping containers are being used to transport goods around the world, and millions of these containers become surplus every year and are repurposed as buildings or structures.

Fire Outcomes by General Construction Type
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on February 25, 2014

This report examines British Columbia (BC) building fires as a function of the general construction type. The fires that are examined were reported to the BC Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) between October 20 2008 and October 19 2013. The data included in this analysis was provided by 339 reporting agencies across the province, sampled from first nations band areas, non-municipal areas (with and without fire protection), and municipal areas

Fires in the Basements of Single-Detached Residential Property
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on November 4, 2013

This report examines the fires that occurred in basements of British Columbia (BC) single-detached residential properties, reported to the BC Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) between October 20 2008 and October19 2013. The data included in this analysis was provided by 296 reporting agencies across the province, sampled from first nations band areas, non-municipal areas (with and without fire protection), and municipal areas. These fires that originated in the basement1 (n = 715) were compared with all other fires that occurred in single-detached residential properties over this period of time (n = 5,481).

Sprinkler Systems and Fire Outcomes in Multi-Level Residential Buildings
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on January 21, 2012

This paper summarizes the findings from an evaluation of the historical fire protection performance of sprinkler systems in multi-level residential buildings in British Columbia (BC), with the intent of anticipating how the fire safety systems should perform in six-story mid-rise wood-frame buildings, permitted in BC since 2009.

Smoke Alarms Work, But Not Forever
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on January 20, 2012

A case is made for pursuing a comprehensive, whole-of-government commitment to ensuring every dwelling in Canada possesses a present, functioning smoke alarm. Achieving this goal will require a comprehensive, consistent, continuing effort from a range of stakeholders.

Survey of Fire Service Professionals: Where Do They Look for Sources of Professional Development?
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by Centre For Public Safety And Criminal Justice Research on June 4, 2015

The main purpose of this study is to identify some of the areas where fire service professionals feel they need further training and where they seek information relating to their field. Two overall patterns emerged from this study.