Salmon Arm firefighter Steve St. Denis, who looks after fire prevention for the fire department, led the plan to provide fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide/smoke detectors to people who are living rough in the community. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm firefighter Steve St. Denis, who looks after fire prevention for the fire department, led the plan to provide fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide/smoke detectors to people who are living rough in the community. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

People living rough in Salmon Arm to receive fire extinguishers, smoke detectors

Fire department, social service agencies want to keep people and property safe after fires in camps

Just past the anniversary of a man’s death who was living rough in Salmon Arm, a firefighter has come up with what he hopes will prevent more injuries and losses.

It was on March 5, 2020 that Vinny Larson, who had been living in a camp he’d set up near Buckerfield’s, died in a fire there.

Steve St. Denis, fire prevention officer with the Salmon Arm Fire Department, in collaboration with the Salvation Army and other social service agencies, suggested that all those people living rough be provided with a small, two-pound fire extinguisher. They will also be given a carbon monoxide/smoke detector the department was provided by the Fire Chiefs’ Association of BC.

In addition to the deadly fire in March 2020, on March 4 this year the fire department was called to a blaze between the Foreshore Trail and Lakeshore Road, just above the railway tracks. Although the cause was not determined, it started where someone had set up camp. They were not hurt but some of their belongings were destroyed. An approaching train was stopped.

Concerned about the increasing numbers of fires around town, St. Denis went to the Salvation Army to talk about creating an outreach program to provide information on fire risks and safety.

Read more: ‘Don’t judge a person’ says friend of Salmon Arm man who died in fire

Read more: Fires in camps where people in Salmon Arm living rough spark concerns

As well as creating a safety brochure, they came up with the idea of handing out fire extinguishers.

“Even if a small fire did start, they could put it out immediately and not have it lead to a bigger fire or a bigger loss of what they do have. It would give them enough time to get… to a safer area,” he said.

He pointed out the smoke detector would wake them up if they were sleeping heavily in a tent.

St. Denis said such fires are not a problem for Salmon Arm alone.

“It’s a common occurrence; we’re not the only department dealing with this. What other departments are doing I don’t know. The fire extinguisher was something we thought could be a valuable resource.”

The safety brochures will be given to those people and agencies who support people without homes. Organizers of the Food with Friends lunch program, for instance, will be provided brochures to give to people who drop in.

“So hopefully we can prevent a larger loss and make them a little bit safer and more conscious of their propane safety and fire safety in their camps,” St. Denis said.


martha.wickett@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

#Salmon ArmfireHomeless

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Shuswap. (Google Maps)
CSRD to ask school trustees to delay decision on Salmon Arm high school options

South Shuswap director advocating for Sorrento high school option

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Public input on the City of Enderby’s proposed 2021 budget is open until 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 19, 2021. (City of Enderby photo)
Enderby’s proposed 2021 budget open for public input

The proposed spending plan includes a 2.2 per cent tax increase; public input open until Monday

Glenn Moyer is seeking space on a public wharf in Sicamous in order to restart his water taxi business after a year-long shutdown due to COVID-19. (Glenn’s Water Taxi/Facebook)
Water taxi operator requests public dock moorage in Sicamous

Glenn Moyer, a long time water taxi operator, is brimming with stories of life on the lake

Black Crow Cannabis is just one of Vernon's many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks games against Leafs postponed as team returns from COVID-19

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

Old English design elements can be seen in the sign of the Summerland Farm and Garden Centre in 1993. The guidelines are no longer in place, but some downtown businesses still show aspects of the days when Summerland had a theme in place. This photo was taken by Summerland photographer Dan Dorotich. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Summerland’s Old English theme has been abandoned

From the 1980s until the early 2000s, Summerland had design guidelines in its downtown

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Ford F-350s have been targeted in the North Okanagan by auto thieves since February 2021, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP data shows. (Gene J. Puskar - The Canadian Press/AP file)
Auto thieves target older Ford F-350s in Vernon: RCMP

Vernon Mounties remind all motorists no vehicle is immune to auto crime

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Most Read