The role of Fire Prevention is to keep the citizens and employees of Grande Prairie safe through education and enforcement of fire safety practices.
What is done to educate residents about Fire Prevention?
Educational talks, Inspections & Investigations are just some of the services GPFD has provided to the community.
The Grande Prairie Fire Department is committed to ensuring our communities safety, fire safety is critical to preventing home fires and injury. Information on common fire safety topics is found below.
Getting Kids Involved with Fire Safety
There are many interesting and fun activities for children of all ages.
Smoke alarms save lives. Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out.
- The Alberta fire and building code requires a minimum of one fire alarm in every dwelling and one on each sleeping level.
- The Grande Prairie fire department recommends at least one alarm on every level of your home, including basements. For increased protection, smoke detectors can also be installed in each bedroom.
- Test smoke alarms once a month by pressing the test button and replacing the batteries as required.
- Test smoke alarm sound by sleeping with bedroom doors shut. This will ensure that the alarm is loud enough to hear in each room and wake all household members. If the alarm is not heard in all rooms, install a smoke alarm inside additional bedrooms to ensure sound can be heard.
- An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smouldering fires. For the best protection, both types of alarms or a dual-sensor alarm (photoelectric and ionization) should be installed in homes.
- Be sure the smoke alarm has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
- Smoke alarms are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These alarms use strobe lights. Vibration equipment can be added to these alarms.
- Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use ten-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are ten years old or sooner if they do not respond appropriately when tested.
How to tell if your smoke alarm is expired
Smoke alarms expire after ten years.
To check how old your smoke alarm is:
- Remove the smoke alarm from the wall or ceiling.
- Look at the back of the alarm for the date of manufacture.
- If it was made less than ten years ago, the alarm can be put back on the ceiling or wall.
- If it was made ten or more years ago or you cannot find the manufacture date, replace the alarm with a new one.
Carbon Monoxide is a colorless and odourless gas given off in the burning process. It can be life-threatening. Common sources of CO are gas or wood fireplaces, gas stoves or ovens, gas hot water heaters, portable heaters, charcoal briquettes, gas clothes dryers, plugged chimneys, and automobiles.
Carbon Monoxide detectors are calibrated to go into alarm before CO levels reach 100 ppm (parts per million) over 90 minutes which is equivalent to a 10% carboxyhemoglobin blood level. This is the level just prior to the onset of poisoning symptoms in a healthy, normal adult.
Higher risk groups may be affected by lower CO levels including unborn babies, infants, children, the elderly, and those with heart or lung disorders.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
- Carbon Monoxide alarms are available in many models and made by many manufacturers. Carbon monoxide alarms in use in Canada must bear a ULC (Underwriters Laboratories Canada) label. Some CO alarms are integrated into smoke alarms and some are stand-alone. Some plug into electrical plug-ins at floor level and some at the ceiling level.
- Remember to follow manufacturers' recommendations for installation and use.
- Install at least one carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home, including the basement. The most important location for a working CO alarm is in or near your bedrooms.
- Test CO alarms once a month by pressing the alarm’s test button to hear if the alarm will sound. If your alarm uses batteries, be sure to replace the batteries once a year. Some manufacturers make alarms that have a 10-year lithium battery that doesn't require annual replacement.
- Never test your CO alarm at your car exhaust, it will overwhelm the sensors and burn them out.
What to do if your alarm goes off
If your alarm sounds and reads from 1-9 ppm you are advised to check manufacturer recommendations, clear the detector in the fresh air, and re-install. If the alarm sound again, calls a heating professional to have your appliances checked.
- If your alarm sounds and reads from 10-49 ppm it has detected a potentially dangerous level of Carbon Monoxide. You are advised to immediately ventilate the building and not operate combustion appliances until repairs are made.
- If 50 ppm or higher is detected leave the building immediately, call 911, and report any symptoms.
A potentially lethal level has been detected.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide exposure
If you are exposed to CO gas, you may get flu-like symptoms such as:
- lose consciousness.
Other warning signs that you might have CO gas in your house include:
- stale or stuffy air
- a lot of moisture on your windows and walls
- soot build-up around appliances and vents
- or a pilot light that keeps going out.
If you or anyone in your house experiences the symptoms of CO poisoning or your CO alarm goes off, you should leave your house and call 911.
Do not go back into the house until the Fire Department tells you it is safe to do so.
All fire extinguishers are labeled using standard symbols for the fire class they can put out. They should be installed near escape routes, and exits, and always in plain view. Keep extinguishers away from hazards.
Class A Includes ordinary combustibles such as wood, cloth, and paper.
Class B Includes flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, and oil-based paint.
Class C Includes energized electrical equipment such as wiring, circuit breakers, and appliances. When the power supply is interrupted by an electrical device, a class C fire can be considered a class A fire.
How to use a fire extinguisher
- Pull the pin this unlocks the operating lever and allows you to discharge the extinguisher.
- Aim low and try to point the extinguisher nozzle or hose at the base of the flame.
- Squeeze the lever to discharge the extinguishing agent, releasing the lever will stop the discharge.
- While the extinguisher is aimed at the base of the flame, use a sweeping motion back and forth or side to side until the flames appear to be out.
Planning makes all the difference. If a fire breaks out in your home, you may have only a few minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Everyone needs to know what to do and where to go if there is a fire. Everyone who lives in your home should practice your home escape plan at least twice a year (once in the daytime and once at night) to ensure they remember what to do if there is a fire.
- Draw a home escape plan and discuss it with everyone in your home.
- Practice the plan at night and during the day with everyone in your home, twice a year.
- Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
- Have an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole, or mailbox) a safe distance from the home where everyone should meet.
- Practice using different ways out.
- Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
- Close doors behind you as you leave.
If an Alarm Sounds...
- If the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out. Never go back inside for people or pets. Inform the fire department upon their arrival.
- If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke on your way out.
- Feel the knob and door before opening a door.
- Call the fire department from outside your home.
Cooking brings family and friends together, provides an outlet for creativity, and can be relaxing. Cooking is the number one cause of residential fires and home injuries. By using the following safety tips, you can prevent fires and injury.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, broiling, or boiling food. Never leave food unattended.
- If you must leave the kitchen, turn off the stove and remove the pot from the burner.
- Make sure to use dry oven mitts and potholders to prevent scalding or burns.
- Use the stove’s back burners whenever possible and turn pot handles inward to reduce the risk of pots being knocked over.
- Keep potholders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, and other items that can burn away from your stovetop.
- Clean food and grease from the oven and stovetop once it's cooled.
- Always keep an oven mitt and lid nearby when cooking. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan.
- If there is an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you and you’re clothing.
- Remember not to store combustible or flammable items in the bottom drawer of the oven.
- Plug the microwave oven directly into the wall outlet; do not use an extension cord.
- Use only microwave oven-safe food containers or dishes.
- Never use aluminum foil or metal in a microwave oven.
- Food heats unevenly in a microwave oven and can be too hot to eat. Stir and test before eating or giving to children.
- Slowly open food that has been heated up in a microwave oven-safe container away from the face. Hot steam can cause burns.
- If a fire starts in the microwave oven, leave the door closed, turn it off and unplug it from the wall. Get out and call 911.
- Make sure you have the microwave serviced before using it again.
- Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
- The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
- Never leave your grill unattended.
- Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
- Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.
- Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles.
- If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off the gas tank and grill.
- If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
- If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
- If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not move the grill.
- There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as fuel.
- If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
- Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
- There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
- When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing of them in a metal container.
When a wood-burning fireplace is in use, the air is continually drawn out of the home and up the fireplace chimney. This air must be replaced to maintain the ideal air-to-gas ratio that allows for complete combustion. When using fireplaces and wood-burning stoves in your home, it is essential to follow the following precautions to prevent the build-up of CO:
- The fireplace damper must be open when the fireplace is in use. The open damper allows the smoke and gases to exit.
- Ensure a fresh air supply in your home before lighting the fire.
- Some fireplaces come with their own combustion air duct. If yours is not equipped with this duct, you must have a fresh air supply, such as an open window.
- Keep the fresh air supply available, even overnight, until the fire is completely out.
- Keep the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use.
- Close the damper when the fire is completely out, the ashes are cold or when the fireplace is not in use. This will prevent air and heat loss up the chimney and cold air drafts from coming down the chimney.
Having your wood-burning appliance designed and installed properly is essential.
- Use dry, seasoned wood and burn hot fires to prevent creosote build-up. Chimneys should be checked regularly and cleaned at least annually. This can be done by the homeowner or by a professional chimney sweep.
- If enough creosote has built up in a chimney it can become dangerous. It can easily ignite and cause extremely high temperatures, which can not only break down the chimney liner but may also heat up the surrounding building structure enough to ignite a fire in the enclosed spaces. These fires are often not detected quickly and can be very difficult to extinguish. Regularly cleaning your chimney will make a big difference in providing a safe and enjoyable woodstove or fireplace experience.
Disposal of smoking materials like tobacco products is an important precaution in reducing fire risk. To better protect our community, it is recommended that you:
- Never put out cigarettes or smoking material in flower planter, peat moss, your lawn, or garden.
- Make sure all smoking materials, butts, and ash are out completely out by dousing them with water or sand prior to putting them in the trash.
- Ensure all butts and ash are out by soaking them with water prior to putting them in the trash.
- When driving, use your ashtray to dispose of any smoking material. Throwing a cigarette butt out of your car window is a serious fire hazard, not to mention polluting and littering.
Do not store propane tanks, firewood, or yard waste next to your house.
- Prune all tree branches within two metres of the ground and plant new trees at least three metres apart.
The Grande Prairie fire department wants you to have a safe holiday. You can use our checklist to help you stay safe while enjoying the holidays.
Do you have any holiday decorations?
Make sure all decorations are flame resistant.
Check that all electric decorations are:
- Unplugged before everyone leaves the home or goes to bed
- Inspected and replaced as necessary
- UL or ULC labeled
Do you have a Christmas tree?
- Water natural Christmas trees daily
- Place any Christmas tree away from exits, heaters, and candles
- Christmas trees can be flammable if dry.
- Use a tree stand with a broad base that has lots of space for water. The stump of the tree should always be in the water.
- If you are using an artificial tree, make sure it is made of flame-resistant or flame-retardant material.
Do you use candles?
- Always supervise children when candles are in use
- Never use candles in the bedroom
- Use candles carefully and only in a candle holder with a non-tip base
- Blow out candles before people leave the room or go home
Do you have a fireplace?
- Never throw holiday gift wrap in the fireplace
- Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen or heat-tempered glass
- Cool ashes for 72 hours in a non-combustible container before throwing them away
Does anyone in your home smoke?
- Provide large deep ashtrays
- Empty ashtrays in the toilet
- Check sofa and cushions for fallen cigarettes and smoking material
- Never use flowerpots or planters to dispose of smoking material
- Always use a smoking materials receptacle designed for exterior use when outdoors
- Keep children safe, and ensure all lighters and matches are locked and out of reach of children
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children
- Keep exits unblocked by decorations, chairs, or other items
Candles may be pretty to look at, but they are a cause of home fires — and home fire deaths. Remember, a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn.
- Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
- Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn
- Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over easily.
- Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
- Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
- Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
- Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
- Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage.
Students living away from home should take a few minutes to make sure they are living in a fire-safe environment. Educating students on what they can do to stay safe during the school year is important and often overlooked.
- Look for housing with a full emergency sprinkler system when choosing a dorm or off-campus housing.
- Make sure your dormitory or apartment has smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and on each level. For the best protection, all smoke alarms should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
- Test all smoke alarms at least monthly.
- Never remove batteries or disable the alarm.
- Learn your building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
- If you live off-campus, have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.
- When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, get out of the building quickly and stay out.
- During a power outage, use a flashlight.
- Cook only where it is permitted. Cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from medicine or intoxicated.
- Check with your local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or chimenea.
- Check your school’s rules before using electrical appliances in your room.