The City of Vancouver has over 600,000 people in residence. While the Greater Vancouver area is home to almost 2.5 million people. Most densely populated areas in North America, Vancouver has stringent fire safety regulations. In order to keep the population of one of the worlds most liveable cities as safe as possible.
Back in 1886, Vancouver was all but destroyed by the “Great Vancouver Fire”, which started as a bush fire in the newly established area and was spread out of control by strong winds. Dozens of people lost their lives, and only a very small handful of buildings survived. New established Vancouver Volunteer Fire Brigade had only existed for 16 days prior and consisted of one volunteer with a hose-wagon. Leap forward to 2017 and over 20 fire halls responded to more than 67,000 emergency calls.
* Fire Safety:
The Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS) team offer a range of services to help you and your family stay safe, including courses where you can get hands-on experience putting out fires. They recommend three steps to ensure you safe as can be in a fire:
- Prevention – Use smoke alarms (check that they are working well each year if they are battery operated, make sure to change the battery annually)
- Plan – Make sure that everyone knows where the escape routes are
- Practice – Have fire drills and make sure everyone knows what they’re doing and where to go.
* Fire Safety Plan:
Ensuring that you have fire safety plans (FSP) for your home or business is a really important aspect of staying safe if a fire does break out. Each building needs its own set of fire safety plans completed and submitted to the VFRS. They have a set of guidelines in order to ensure that all the information required has been captured. However, you can also contact a company that specializes in fire safety to create and submit an FSP for you.
As submitted data in a Fire Safety Plan, there must include a copy of the fire alarm system sequence of operation, code of compliance drawings (if relevant), building permit information, sprinkler permit information.
FSP can help to ensure the occupants or residents of a building knows what to do in the case of a fire. Often these plans can be adapted by a fire safety planner to be suitable for most emergency situations. The documentation submitted to the VFRS also enables a speedy response by fire and rescue services. Who knows what to expect when they arrive at the building.
* Saving Lives:
Fire safety plans are a requirement under Canadian bylaws because they to help save lives. A well-designed plan shows floor layouts, evacuation routes in addition to things like shutoff valves for gas, electricity, and water. Accurate floor plans not only assist occupants to escape in an emergency situation. But also allow first responders to ensure that they are able to do a sweep for potential victims or people who need help. As well as find the fastest way to respond to the exact location of the fire. The FSP submitted to the VFRS is assumed to be accurate and current by first responders, so is not something that you should risk doing half-hearted.
The Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service provides a 100-page+ template here to help you complete a safety plan. However, many organizations outsource this important job to a trusted and respected company that specializes in fire safety. Often companies that install fire safety systems, such as sprinkler systems, alarms, or extinguishers, are able to create a safety plan. Your SFP should obviously include the location of extinguishers, alarms and emergency lighting.
* Choosing a Fire Safety Company:
Talking about a matter of life and death, you really don’t want to be involved with a backyard cowboy company that misses vital information. However, we are still in a world where most people are also budget conscious. So, you want to find a balance between a company that will charge a reasonable fee. But will also actually do what they say they will do. While having the knowledge and expertise to offer strong advice and recommendations. Yes, quality may cost a little more, but you still want a company who provides value for money.
* Things to Consider:
Does the company normally work on similar projects to yours?
If you have a large office building, a company. That normally works with small apartment blocks or single residents may be more geared towards a smaller floor plan. Equally, if you have a small apartment block, a firm that normally deals with a large office block. Maybe more interested in moving your fire safety options to a larger format.
Does the company offer full service?
In an ideal world, the company that installs your sprinkler system and checks that your fire alarms are working should also be able to create your FSP. A company that has knowledge of what goes into a fire safety plan, and ideally has planners dedicated to creating a fire safety plan. If more likely to be able to also advise you on changes you could implement that will increase your safety. While potentially offer strategies to assist in keeping your annual expenditure at a reasonable level. (e.g. do you have the right type and size of fire extinguisher for your needs?)
Ideally, at least skim through the VFRS Fire Safety Plan template, and you’ll be able to get your FSP prepared while being secure in the knowledge that you are actually going to be safe as can be if a fire ever occurs.