Nunavik wants to curb its high rate of fires
"We want to know what contributes to that"
KUUJJUAQ — The good news: Nunavik saw fewer reported fires in 2012 than the previous year.
The bad news: the region still sees three times more fires than other regions of Quebec — something Nunavik’s civil security officials hope to change.
And to do that, the Kativik Regional Government department presented Nunavik’s 2012 fire statistics to its regional council meeting last week, in hopes of identifying the factors that may cause fires.
“If we look at provincial averages, we’re considerable higher [for reported fires],” said Craig Lingard, head of the the KRG’s civil security department. “But there are many considerations that could explain that, like our geography, the cost-of-living and the equipment we use.”
In Quebec in 2012, about one fire was reported for every 1,000 people, while in Nunavik there were more than three fires per 1,000 residents.
Overall, 63 fires were reported in the region in 2011, and 41 in 2012, Lingard said.
The total material losses associated with those fires are high too: almost $9 million over the last three years.
“It’s an exceptional amount,” Lingard said.
But Lingard hopes the drop in fires in 2012 can be credited to Nunavik’s fire cover safety plan and other awareness initiatives.
He said department is also now more vigourous about tracking data, which helps paint a clearer picture of what is happening in the region.
Civil security’s other findings:
• most fires in Nunavik occur in residential buildings;
• 39 per cent are connected to smokers’ supplies: lighters and lit cigarettes;
• 29 per cent of Nunavik’s homes do not have functioning smoke detectors;
• more than 80 per cent of the region’s fires take place on weekdays; and,
• more than half of fires happen during daytime hours, between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
“We’re also seeing a trend that’s consistent over three years — our busiest time is during the summer months, with a drop in the fall,” Lingard said. “We want to know what contributes to that — is it kids being off of school? Or a slow-down of our prevention activities?”
One challenge Lingard knows his department must address is keeping volunteer firefighter crews in each community at full force.
“We’re seeing most of our communities are able to get eight to 10 firefighters to the scene within 10 minutes,” Linguard said.
“But not all communities meet minimum strike force; we have to make sure we have adequate firefighters at all times.”