Edmonton’s fire chief hopes a new public awareness campaign he’s spearheading will prevent apartment fires caused by cigarettes left smouldering on balconies.
Since 2010, fires caused by cigarettes left unattended on a balcony have been responsible for nearly $45 million in fire damage, and Chief Ken Block said people have to start thinking about the risk.
“We need to make fire safety and fire prevention top of mind for all Edmontonians,” he said.
Block unveiled the campaign at Fire Hall One on Monday, but the department also plans to have condominium and apartment buildings either install commercial ashtrays on balconies or ban smoking.
He said people aren’t getting the message and lives are at risk.
“I would like to think that common sense would prevail, but that’s not been our experience. There have been massive condominium fires.”
He said he hopes condominium and apartment owners will take the issue seriously, but fines are a possibility if they don’t.
Metro Edmonton Fire Chief Ken Block would like to see commercial ashtrays like this on the balconies of any apartment or condominium building that doesn’t ban smoking.
Block said he would also like to see building code changes that extend sprinklers on to balconies or require fire-resistant siding around them.
Buildings constructed after 2008 already have to have balcony sprinklers, but Block said many Edmonton apartments were built to old standards.
“We’re building safer structures today. It’s the massive amount of inventory out there that were built under the old rules.”
The province’s is supporting the public education campaign and acting deputy fire commissioner Jeremy Wagner said they also support changing the building code.
“We do support the recommendations. We do think it will work in favour of limiting the number of fires.”