Mr. Speaker, this week Canada will be observing Fire Prevention Week. It is the appropriate time to heighten Canadians' awareness of the need to be vigilant and responsive to fire hazards, especially in the home and at work.
Saturday, October 12, has been designated as Fire Service Recognition Day. Our full time and volunteer fire fighters often put their own lives in danger in order to save other lives.
We want to use this day to express our appreciation and gratitude to all fire fighters across Canada.
The theme for this year's fire prevention week campaign is "let's hear it for fire safety: test your detectors". As all members know, fires are always dramatic experiences, especially when human lives are involved.
It is important for Canadians to increase their awareness of the danger of fire and the ways they can protect their family, property and themselves. Since the 1970s when smoke alarms were introduced in Canada statistics have shown repeatedly that these devices can save lives and reduce loss of property.
However, to offer the protection for which they were designed smoke alarms must be fully operational. This means that they must be checked periodically to ensure that they are in good working condition, that the batteries are not dead or have not been removed, and that they are located at strategic points in the home.
The costs associated with fire related injuries, death and property losses are high. In 1993, 417 Canadians lost their lives as a result of fires, 78 per cent of which occurred in the home. In fact, 26,000 of the 66,000 fires reported were residential fires and amounted to $482 million in property losses.
As for federal buildings, 48 fires were recorded in 1995-96. Although no death occurred, the fires accounted for eight injuries and $716,000 in property losses. Canadians must be reminded that the vast majority of fire deaths in North America occur in the home.
To increase their protection, they must constantly be aware of the fire hazards lurking in their midst. It is always better to be safe than sorry. I therefore urge all Canadians to check their smoke detectors and participate in fire safety initiatives during this year's Fire Prevention Week.