Be Fire Safe: What You Need to Know About Fire

Fire can be one of the most devastating events that can happen to an individual or family. When fires occur on a large scale, many individuals and families can be affected – they may lose their homes, their possessions or their livelihoods. Minimize the impact of a fire on you and your loved ones by learning how to prevent fires and what to do in case of a fire.

Maple Ridge is embedded within the forest; approximately 60% of the community is forested. This region of the province is susceptible to both lightning and human caused fires. Overall, the community could be classified with a fire risk profile described by a low to moderate fire probability and high to extreme consequence based on the values at risk.

B.A. Blackwell and Associates Ltd. were retained to develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (PDF) in consultation with Fire Rescue Service staff and other support staff as required for consideration by Mayor and Council. The project was funded by Maple Ridge and a supplementary grant from the Union of B.C. Municipalities. Review our Wildfire Safety Checklist (PDF).

How Can I Prevent Fires in My Home?

There are simple steps you can take to prevent fires in your home. Download the Home Fire Safety Checklist (PDF) to ensure that you have all your bases covered when it comes to fire prevention. Be sure to test all smoke alarms in your home once a month. Replace batteries at least once a year, and replace smoke alarms after 10 years.
Wildfire Safety Checklist
Home Fire Safety Checklist

How to Prepare

  • Review Before an Emergency for general information on how to prepare.
  • Build or restock your Emergency Preparedness Kit.
  • Create and Practice a Fire Escape Plan.
  • Twice each year, practice your home fire escape plan. Some tips to consider when preparing this plan include:
    • Find two ways to get out of each room.
    • If the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. A secondary route might be a window onto a neighboring roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.
    • Only purchase collapsible ladders evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
    • Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.
    • Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
    • Windows and doors with security bars must have quick release devices to allow them to be opened immediately in an emergency.
    • Make sure everyone in the family understands and practices how to properly operate and open locked or barred doors and windows.
    • Teach children not to hide from firefighters.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement.

During a Fire

  • Leave your home immediately. If possible, close doors behind you to confine the fire.
  • Alert the members of your household or sound the alarm in your apartment building to notify others.
  • Call 9-1-1 from a safe place.
  • If you are in an apartment building, do not use the elevators.
  • As part of your family emergency plan, meet with family members at a preplanned location.
  • Inform the emergency crews of and missing persons or pets.
  • Do not go back into the building until the fire department has given the all clear.
  • Crawl low under any smoke to your exit - heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
  • When the smoke alarm sounds, get out fast. You may have only seconds to escape safely.
  • If there is smoke blocking your door or first way out, use your second way out.
  • Smoke is toxic. If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.
  • Before opening a door, feel the doorknob and door. If either is hot, leave the door closed and use your second way out.
  • If there is smoke coming around the door, leave the door closed and use your second way out.
  • If you open a door, open it slowly. Be ready to shut it quickly if heavy smoke or fire is present.
  • If you can’t get to someone needing assistance, leave the home and call 9-1-1 or the fire department. Tell the emergency operator where the person is located.
  • If pets are trapped inside your home, tell firefighters right away.
  • If you can’t get out, close the door and cover vents and cracks around doors with cloth or tape to keep smoke out. Call 9-1-1 or your fire department. Say where you are and signal for help at the window with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.
  • If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll – stop immediately, drop to the ground, and cover your face with your hands. Roll over and over or back and forth until the fire is out. If you or someone else cannot stop, drop, and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel. Use cool water to treat the burn immediately for 3 to 5 minutes. Cover with a clean, dry cloth. Get medical help right away by calling 9-1-1 or the fire department.

After a Fire

  • Contact your local disaster relief service, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food and medicines.
  • If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies. If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.
  • Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
  • The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
  • Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.
  • Try to locate valuable documents and records. Refer to information on contacts and the replacement process inside this brochure.
  • If you leave your home, contact the local police department to let them know the site will be unoccupied.
  • Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
  • Notify your mortgage company of the fire.
  • Check with an accountant or the Internal Revenue Service about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.

How Can I Be Wildfire Safe?

A wildfire risk management system (PDF) was developed to identify key areas of risk within the community and to support the development of the plan for consideration by Mayor and Council. A synopsis of key findings and plan recommendations follows. In total, 19 recommendations were developed for consideration by the District. These focus on communication and education, structure protection, emergency response, training and post-fire rehabilitation.

Community Wildfire Protection Plan

On July 10, 2007, the Mayor and Council passed the following resolution: "That the recommendations contained in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan be adopted in principle pending the development of a detailed implementation plan with an associated financial plan which will be brought back to Council for their consideration and adoption."