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Calgary Fire Department hits the streets for annual smoke alarm blitz

Calgary firefighters install a free smoke detector as part of Fire Prevention Week.
Calgary firefighters install a free smoke detector as part of Fire Prevention Week. Michael King / Global News

Calgary firefighters took to the streets Thursday night to speak with homeowners about fire safety and to install free smoke alarms where needed.

It was all part of Fire Prevention Week which runs from Oct. 6 to Oct. 12.

Firefighters, fire chiefs and ATCO gas employees visited 68 homes in the southeast community of Penbrooke Meadows. They installed 35 smoke alarms and 44 CO detectors.

READ MORE: Calgary officials provide safety tips as fire prevention week kicks off

The complex was chosen for this year’s smoke detector blitz because the fire department has been called to 27 kitchen fires in that area over the last three years.

Fire Chief Steve Dongworth was on hand to help install the detectors and said that the high number of calls in the area highlights this year’s focus, which is to reduce the number of kitchen fires.

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“We know many people get into trouble with fire by putting a pot on the stove and leaving it unattended,” Dongworth said. “Next thing they know, they get distracted and there’s a fire in the house.”

This year’s fire prevention motto is “stand by your pan.”

READ MORE: Fire department urges Calgarians to ‘stand by your pan’ in social media video

The CFD says that kitchen fires are the No. 1 cause of house fires in Calgary.

“We know people often heat up oils too quickly and they can be very dangerous as well,” Dongworth said. “[Oil fires] can be very dangerous from an injury perspective.”

Dongworth said that the annual program is well-received by people in the community.

“Most people are happy to see us and happy to let us in their homes,” he said. “They’re happy to talk about fire safety and happy to get free replacement smoke alarms.”

Kitchen safety tips

As part of the “stand by your pan” campaign, the CFD has posted a number of fire safety tips on its website:

  • Stay alert and never leave food that is cooking on the stovetop unattended
  • When cooking, check on your food regularly and use a timer to remind you to check at regular intervals
  • Heat your cooking oil slowly and keep the cooking oil temperature below 200 C
  • Avoid cooking when you are sleepy or drowsy from medication, alcohol or cannabis
  • Keep your cooking areas clear of children, pets and materials that can catch on fire, such as potholders, towels, drapes and food packaging
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The CFD also has advice on how to handle different types of kitchen fires:

  • If you have a grease fire, using water to put it out can cause the grease to splash onto yourself or kitchen surfaces and spread the flames
  • Keep the pot or pan on the stove and slide a fitted lid over it to smother the flames
  • If it is safe to do so, turn off the heat and the exhaust fan to stop flames and gases from spreading
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from escaping
  • For a microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the appliance if it is safe to do so