Cooking accidents have been the leading cause of house fires in Regina for the past decade, according to the city’s fire and protective services.
Regina Fire announced the results of its study with the University of Regina’s Community Research Unit on Tuesday.
The study found 39 per cent of Regina’s structure fires between 2009 and 2015 were caused by cooking-related accidents.
A total of 1,046 incidents were reviewed, with the total damage costs pegged around $8 million.
Overall, the study found people’s careless or forgetful behaviors were at the centre of these house fires.
“It’s remembering that they need to double-check to make sure the equipment is off, or it’s most likely they leave the house … and either they forget or they unintentionally leave it on,” said Dr. Rozzet Jurdi-Hage, the lead author on the report.
According to Jurdi-Hage, newcomers to Canada were overrepresented among these statistics. She said giving newcomers a solid fire education, paired with gentle reminders, are ways to remedy these numbers.
When it comes to seniors in the study, Jurdi-Hage noted they weren’t overrepresented when it came to careless cooking incidences. She added, however, elderly people were more likely to experience a higher risk of fire-escalation and to require firefighters’ intervention. Leaving combustibles close to a heat source was also more common among seniors. In other cases, Jurdi-Hage said forgetfulness was the major factor.
The researcher also pointed out a number of the severe fires happened while the cook was impaired.
“(Impaired people) pass out while the cooking is happening and usually they’re using the stovetop,” Jurdi-Hage explained, adding most of these fires started after midnight.
“They’re missing their cues and they’re not intervening to mitigate the effects of the fire.”
The study also found that the majority of cooking fires occur on Sundays, and the least amount happen on Tuesdays.
Regina Fire has launched a new public education program focussed on changing behaviour to reduce the number of accidental fires.
The program will also look at the severity of cooking incidents, and how to safely react to prevent flames from spreading.