Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 97, Issue 4, pp 300–304 | Cite as

Fire-related Deaths Among Aboriginal People in British Columbia, 1991–2001

  • Mark Gilbert
  • Meenakshi Dawar
  • Rosemary Armour


Background: Fire-related mortality rates are known to be higher in Aboriginal people in BC. The purpose of this study was to describe the epidemiology and context of fire-related deaths in this population.

Methods: All death registrations attributable to fires in the province were identified by the B.C. Vital Statistics Agency (1991–2001). Age-specific death rates (ASDR) and agestandardized mortality rates (ASMR) were calculated for Status Indians and other residents. Data from Coroner’s reports from the B.C. Coroners’ Service (1997–2001) were used to describe the context of Aboriginal fire-related deaths.

Results: The overall fire-related ASMR for Status Indians and other residents were 0.66 deaths and 0.07 deaths/10,000 population respectively. Annual ASMR for both populations were constant over the study period. ASDR were higher in every age category for Status Indians; children and seniors had higher rates in both populations. Twenty-seven Aboriginal fatalities (20 fires) were identified for the contextual analysis. Key findings were: 48% of the total sample had elevated blood alcohol levels; 30% of the fires were caused by lit cigarettes (majority of decedents were intoxicated); 15% of the fires were caused by electric heating sources; at least 34% of fires occurred in homes with absent or nonfunctional smoke alarms.

Interpretation: Fire-related mortality among Aboriginal people in BC is a preventable public health concern. In this population, fire safety and prevention programs should consider improving the prevalence of functioning smoke alarms, promoting the safe use of heat sources, and decreasing smoking behaviours and the use of alcohol.

MeSH terms

Fires Indians, North American mortality accident prevention 


Contexte: On sait que les taux de mortalité liés aux incendies en Colombie-Britannique sont plus élevés chez les Autochtones. Nous avons voulu décrire l’épidémiologie et le contexte des décès liés aux incendies dans cette population.

Méthode: Tous les décès enregistrés attribuables aux incendies dans la province ont été trouvés dans les registres d’état civil de la Colombie-Britannique (1991–2001). Les taux de mortalité par âge (TMA) et les taux de mortalité standardisés selon l’âge (TMSA) ont été calculés pour les Indiens inscrits et les autres résidents. À partir des rapports du Bureau des coroners de la Colombie- Britannique (1997–2001), nous avons établi le contexte des décès liés aux incendies chez les Autochtones.

Résultats: Les TMSA globaux liés aux incendies étaient de 0,66 décès p. 10 000 chez les Indiens inscrits et de 0,07 décès p. 10 000 chez les autres résidents. Annuellement, les TMSA des deux populations étaient constants sur la période de l’étude. Les TMA étaient supérieurs dans chaque catégorie d’âge chez les Indiens inscrits; les enfants et les personnes âgées affichaient des taux plus élevés dans les deux populations. Nous avons répertorié 27 accidents mortels (20 incendies) chez les Autochtones lors de l’analyse contextuelle. Nos principales constatations étaient les suivantes: 48 % de l’échantillon total avaient des taux d’alcoolémie élevés; 30 % des incendies avaient été causés par des cigarettes allumées (la majorité des défunts étaient intoxiqués); les installations de chauffage électriques étaient à l’origine de 15 % des incendies; et au moins 34 % des incendies s’étaient produits dans des maisons sans détecteur de fumée ou avec des détecteurs défectueux.

Interprétation: Les décès liés aux incendies chez les Autochtones de la Colombie-Britannique sont un problème de santé publique évitable. Dans cette population, les responsables des programmes de sécurité-incendie et de prévention devraient songer à améliorer la prévalence des détecteurs de fumée en bon état, à promouvoir l’utilisation sans risque des installations de chauffage et à réduire le tabagisme et la consommation d’alcool.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Gilbert
    • 1
  • Meenakshi Dawar
    • 2
  • Rosemary Armour
    • 3
  1. 1.Dept. of Health Care and Epidemiology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Health CanadaFirst Nations and Inuit Health BranchVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Knowledge Management and Technology DivisionBC Ministry of HealthVictoriaCanada

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