Those people who still burn wood in their stoves should ensure they get their chimneys cleaned, says Qualicum Beach Fire Chief Darryl Kohse.
“People should make sure they have it cleaned every six months,” he said. “They should also make sure the wood they are burning is clean and dry. If you burn wet wood the creosote becomes more prevalent and it builds up.”
He conceded chimney fires have sparked a smaller and smaller proportion of the calls to the fire department over the years.
“A lot more people have gone to natural gas.”
Kohse’s message comes as communities around the province mark Fire Prevention Awareness Week.
Kohse said the department has enlisted Sparky the Fire Dog to attend local schools to give important messages about fire safety.
One of the most important of these — and one that fits with this year’s theme of ‘Protect your Family from Fire,’ is to develop a fire safety plan, so both parents and children are able to find their way out of the house in the event of a fire.
“As well, people should check their smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries twice a year, at the time change.”
As well, of course, he stressed the danger of children playing with matches.
“That’s a big one,” he said.
Deputy chief Peter Cornell said when firefighters go into the schools, they make sure, particularly with the little ones, to give them a non-threatening idea of what a firefighter is all about.
“With the Kindergarteners we put on the masks and the packs on, so they can see what we look like and sound like, so they won’t be afraid of us in a fire,” he said.
“Usually we dress their teacher in the gear, so it’s somebody familiar.”
They also show children film clips that dispel some of the myths they might believe about fire.
“We show them a couple of movie clips where people can just walk through a fire and it is not thick and black, and then we show a clip of what a house is actually like when it’s on fire,” Cornell said.
“It’s very, very different.”
He said firefighters will also choose two students to be Fire Chief for a Day on Oct. 14.
“We pick them up in a fire truck and drive them to lunch and then give the a tour of the fire hall.”