The Tumbler Ridge Fire Department responded to fifteen calls during the month of February. These included nine First Responder calls, four reports of ringing alarms, one motor vehicle fire, and one report of smoke. Training in the month of February included the topics of ropes and knots, First Responder training, and members of the fire department completed an examination through the Justice Institute of British Columbia. Congratulations to Deputy Vandale, Lieutenant Braam, and Firefighters Thibodeau, Ross, Dell, Arnaly, and Probationary Firefighter Hall who all achieved 100% attendance at practice sessions during the month.
As we continue to endure cold weather prior to the arrival of spring, it is important that everyone is aware of the dangers associated with carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide results from the burning of fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, propane, and wood. The main concerns in most homes in Tumbler Ridge would be the use of natural gas appliances and woodstoves/fireplaces. For those homes with an attached garage, there is an additional concern with the carbon monoxide produced by an idling vehicle in that garage. Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of fatal poisonings in North America, due in large part to the fact that it is odorless, colourless and tasteless which makes it difficult to detect. According to Parachute Canada, which is a non-profit safety organization, from 2000-2007, 414 Canadians died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
The BC Building Code requires that every residence with a fuel burning appliance has a carbon monoxide alarm installed within five meters of each sleeping area. These alarms are easy to install and are widely available. They operate similarly to smoke alarms, and require the same monthly checks and replacement of batteries twice each year. In addition to installing and maintaining working carbon monoxide detectors, it is important that fuel burning appliances are maintained properly, have a sufficient supply of fresh air and are vented properly to the outside. Having kitchen and bathroom fans and a clothes dryer running for long periods of time can create a negative pressure in a home, particularly during cold weather when windows are doors are usually kept closed. This negative pressure, or vacuum, can interfere with the proper ventilation of fuel burning appliances. This problem can be rectified by slightly opening a window while operating a woodstove or fireplace to ensure that there is an adequate supply of fresh air for the appliance. If you would like more information on carbon monoxide safety, there are brochures available at the fire hall, and there is also a significant amount of information available online.