Fires are up more than 17% in Toronto as more people cook at home
The widespread shut-down of restaurants over this past month has prompted many otherwise kitchen-averse Toronto residents to try their hands at cooking — some more successfully than others, as new data from the city suggests.
Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, who also heads up the the city's emergency COVID-19 operations centre, announced today during his daily media conference with Mayor John Tory and medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa that fires are up significantly in Toronto right now.
Emergency calls for Toronto Fire Services are up 4.3 per cent in general this year so far compared to the same time last year, but "working fires" — read: incidents in which actual fire is involved — have shot up a whopping 17.6 per cent year to date.
@Toronto_Fire is seeing at 17% increase in fires in @cityoftoronto - unattended cooking and careless smoking are the leading causes. Please never leave your cooking unattended and be extremely careful if you smoke in your home. @TPFFA— Matthew Pegg (@ChiefPeggTFS) April 13, 2020
"The two leading causes of fire in Toronto are careless and unattended cooking and careless smoking," explained Pegg.
"In response to these alarming trends, Toronto Fire Services is running daily public education campaigns aimed at reducing the number of fires caused by cooking and smoking."
It's hard to say whether or not the numbers mean more people are cooking, smoking or doing either of these things improperly on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fires could simply be up because more people are spending time at home.
Whatever the case, Pegg asked all residents on Monday to "please never leave your cooking unattended, and please ensure that you safely dispose of cigarette butts and other smokers' articles."
Don't forget fire-safe behaviours at home - they're more important now than ever! To prevent cooking fires, please always stay in the kitchen while you are cooking, set a timer and check cooking and baking regularly. #FireSafety #LookWhileYouCook @ChiefPeggTFS @tfsCFI1 pic.twitter.com/K6tdVGlQuC— Toronto Fire Service (@Toronto_Fire) March 21, 2020
Pegg issued an update today not only on the city's fire services, but on the provision of all emergency services in Toronto, which he says "continue without interruption and without any reduction in frontline emergency service levels."
Paramedic and police call volumes are actually down eight per cent, year-over-year, according to Pegg — a phenomenon that he says can generally be attributed to a reduction in the number of people working in the city, travelling in the city and calling 911 to report the same incident.
"Our residents continue to receive world class emergency pre-hospital care and paramedic service in toronto each day," he said of paramedics, noting that Toronto Police "continue to increase patrols and are increasing the visbiity of officers across the city."
Toronto's Emergency Operations Centre continues to be fully activated, operating at a level 3 — the highest level of activation possible — as it has been since March 17.
Mayor John Tory, for his part, praised emergency responders today heading into what he called the fifth week since we took action to "effectively lock down the city as much as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives."
"Protecting peoples' heath, saving as many lives as possible and limiting damage to the economy and to our way of life have been our focus through this emergency," said Tory during Monday's press conference.
"I know the restrictions put in place have been tough for people and unusual in the Toronto context, but I also know that the vast majority of people are getting the message and they're doing the right thing."
As of April 13 at 12:30 p.m., Toronto Public Health was reporting 2,362 cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus within the city. Ninety-two people have now died as a result of contracting the virus and 122 have recovered.
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