Calgary, AB,

“Every Second Counts” - Calgary Fire Department launches Fire Prevention Week with annual smoke alarm blitz

The Calgary Fire Department visited close to 100 households in the community of Huntington Hills this evening to test and replace smoke alarms as part of its annual Fire Prevention Week safety campaign.

“We know that fires can double in size every 30 to 60 seconds, and it matters greatly how quickly both the homeowner and fire service responds,” said Fire Chief Steve Dongworth. “You can protect yourself and your family by planning two ways out of your home in the event of an emergency, and ensure that you have working smoke alarms on every level of your house.”

“And when you need help, the vast majority of our responses will arrive within 7 minutes of a 9-1-1 call,” said Dongworth. “We put great effort into continually measuring and improving our response times to ensure citizens are well-protected across the entire City, and that Calgary Fire maintains internationally-recognized standards.”

Members of the Calgary Fire Department, along with representatives from the Alberta Fire Commissioner’s Office and ATCO Gas, visited residents door-to-door to help install, test and replace their smoke alarms. ATCO crews joined the mission to inspect and install carbon monoxide alarms.

Smoke alarms expire after 10 years and should be replaced to ensure they continue to save lives. Not only do one-third of of all fires in Calgary happen between 10PM and 7AM, when most residents are sleeping, one quarter of all house fires in Calgary that resulted in injury, occurred in homes without working smoke alarms.

“By carrying out community safety blitzes, we can visit households in person and remind residents to test their smoke alarms monthly, replace the batteries yearly and install new smoke alarms every 10 years,” said Calgary Fire Department Public Information Officer Carol Henke.

The Calgary Fire Department identifies communities to blitz by looking at when homes were built, then determining which areas are likely to have the highest concentration of homes with expired smoke alarms. Combined with population analysis, this data allows the Calgary Fire Department to target the right neighbourhoods for maximum risk mitigation.

As part of the Calgary Fire Department’s Home Safety Program, firefighters visited more than 29,000 homes in 2016 – up from 21,350 residences in 2015 – and installed more than 650 smoke alarms in homes where there were no alarms present or were not working.

For ATCO, Fire Prevention Week is an opportunity to connect directly with Calgarians. “Carbon monoxide is an invisible, silent and odourless toxic gas, which can lead to serious illness or death. We regularly work alongside the Calgary Fire Department to provide our communities and customers with the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe,” says Dan Nicolajsen, Customer Service Manager with Gas Distribution for ATCO. “We encourage everyone to ensure they have working carbon monoxide alarms in their home, and to visit to download our carbon monoxide prevention checklist.”

During Fire Prevention Week, October 9-14, 2017, the Calgary Fire Department reminds everyone that seconds matter in any emergency. On October 14, Open Houses are being held in three fire halls across the city and Calgary Fire has also released a public awareness video featuring a Mahogany family who did everything right during a catastrophic house fire in 2016. See information below.

Fire Prevention Week is held annually by fire departments across North America. It was proclaimed in Canada in 1919 to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, as well as a major fire that destroyed the Centre Block of the Parliament buildings in Ottawa on February 3, 1916.

To learn more about smoke alarms and other Fire Prevention Week events and activities, please visit

Fire Facts

  • While most fire engines will arrive within 7 minutes of a 9-1-1 call, fires can double in size every 30-60 seconds. Working smoke alarms really do save lives.
  • In 2016, an estimated one-third of all fires in Calgary happened during sleeping hours, between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  • The single greatest cause of indoor fires in Calgary happens in the kitchen, with an average of 1.2 cooking fires occurring every day in our city.
  • Calgary Fire responds to a wide variety of calls for help every day: fires, motor vehicle accidents, aquatic rescue, life-threatening medical incidents, hazardous materials and more add up to an estimated 56,000 calls for help every year. Check this interactive map to find out what incidents are happening in your community, along with fire station locations and community information.

Fire Hall Open Houses

On Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, The Calgary Fire Department is holding Open Houses at three firehalls across the city. Come visit 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m for fire truck tours, treats, refreshments and tons of information about how to keep your family and home safe from fire. There are three locations to choose from:

  • Mount Pleasant Fire Station 7, 2708 4th Street NW
  • Saddleridge Fire Station 32, 800 Saddletown Circle NE
  • McKenzie Town Fire Station 30, 6 McKenzie Towne Gate SE

"Every Second Counts" – Matt & Chelsey’s Story

In a new video for Fire Prevention Week (available on City of Calgary youTube), a family from Mahogany recounts their experience being in a devastating house fire in 2016. Even with working smoke alarms and doing everything right, they still had only seconds to escape.

“We woke early in the morning to the sound of the smoke alarm going off,” said Matthew, father of four. “Immediately, we smelled smoke. I had left the room and you could see the flames coming through the floor on the main level.”

“Within the time that the alarm went off, to the time we got outside was less than a minute,” said Chelsey, mom. “In the end we lost everything. But it’s just stuff. I got my kids out.”

Chelsey advises Calgarians to be prepared, and know that while most fire engines will arrive within 7 minutes of a 9-1-1 call, fires can double in size every 30-60 seconds.

“Just get out,” she says. “And make sure you have smoke detectors because I don’t think that we would have gotten out had it not been for us being woken up by them.”