Vancouver fire department urges residents to be proactive after recent rash of arsons

CRIME Bin FireIN the month of April, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services have seen a rapid rise in the number of reportable fires identified as being the result of arson.

Annually, the average monthly incident of fire during the January to April period is 275 per month. In the May to September period that number climbs to a monthly average of 500. Predominantly this increase occurs in the outdoor environment, throughout laneways and alleys of the City of Vancouver.

Residents are being asked to be on the watch for suspicious activities and suspicious people, particularly in lanes. Police and fire officials would rather respond to 911 calls about suspicious activities than go out on fire calls.

Discarded items, recycle bins, and garbage provide fuel for fires, which can easily spread to adjacent structures, be they sheds, garages, or homes thereby placing the lives of residents at risk.

In 2014 the Vancouver fire department investigated 151 fires that were deemed to have been deliberately set. They accounted for about 26 per cent of the fires that the department’s investigators attended and resulted in more than $7 million in property damage.

In addition to keeping flammable material out of harm’s ways, officials are suggesting residents install motion-detecting light to deter people from lighting fires. About 80 per cent of fires occur between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.