Only a third of fires in Quebec are reported to insurers

Barely a third of fires that occur in Quebec are reported to insurers. In 2018, the most recent data available at Ministry of Public Security (MSP), barely 6,414 fire reports were sent to insurance companies while firefighters had to put out 17,172 fires. The proportions were roughly the same in 2016 and 2017.

This discrepancy in reporting can be explained in several ways. Insurers only report fires that have caused material and financial losses (vehicle fires, building fires, etc.), underlines the MSP in its report: Fire safety in Quebec 2021. Exterior fires without loss where the damage is not significant enough to make a declaration or a claim to its insurer, are not declared by the insurance companies. Another important factor is that a number of citizens are uninsured. According to a survey LIKE published in 2016, 37% of renters in Quebec had no home insurance coverage.

Conversely, hundreds of fires reported by insurers were not declared by the security and fire services (SII). It can be fires of buildings, vehicles, chimneys, for which the firefighters were not called. The MSP recorded 1,674 in 2016, 1,602 in 2017 and 1,519 in 2018 for a total of 4,795 during these three years.

The number of reports received by insurance companies for fires is far greater than the number of fires. In 2016, they say they received 6,259 reports for 3,052 fires corresponding to these claims, 5,891 reports for 2,979 fires in 2017 and 6,414 reports for 3,160 households in 2018. This difference is due to the fact that the same fire may require several reports from different insurers, for example, for multiple dwellings.

The number of fires on the rise

From 2014 to 2018, an increase in the number of fires was recorded every year in Quebec, except for the year 2017, as shown in the following graph:

The drop recorded in 2014 and 2017 was notably attributable to higher than normal rainfall, specifies the MSP. Over a five-year period, adds the same report, Quebec experienced an average fire rate of 2 fires per 1,000 inhabitants.

In 2018, 4,885 residences were damaged by fires in the province as well as 516 commercial buildings. On average, firefighters respond to 45 to 50 fires per day. Also in 2018, smoking materials or open flame objects (candles, candles and others) were the source of fires that occurred in 1,190 residential or commercial buildings.

Deaths and injuries in the fires

Fires cause dozens of deaths per year. Between 2014 and 2018, the province recorded an average of more than 50 deaths per year caused by the flames. The peak during this period occurred in 2014 with 76 deaths, but this is the dramatic year when a fire caused the death of about thirty residents of a seniors’ home in Isle-Verte. .

Statistics show that fire victims are found in greater numbers among men than among women. The mortality rate is highest among those aged 40 and over. However, the number of injuries fell slightly between 2014 and 2018; it was in the group from 20 to 39 years old that they were the most numerous. In 2018, the fires caused 37 deaths and injuries to 388 people, 336 civilians and 52 firefighters.

Increase in vehicle fires

Vehicle fires (car, truck, boat, trailer, motorcycle) are on the increase, notes the MSP. In 2014, the fire departments contained 2,333 and 2,375 in 2018. These fires accounted for an average of nearly 14% of the fires declared by the fire departments each year. On average, from 2016 to 2018, vehicle fires caused nearly $33 million annually in losses, according to estimates from the fire safety systems (SSIs) that fought these fires.

Between 2016 and 2018, the main heat source of vehicle fires was the vehicle itself at more than 64%. Between 2016 and 2018, at 54.4%, the probable cause was a mechanical or electrical failure or defect. In nearly 22% of cases, the cause remained undetermined. Faulty design, construction or installation would have been the source of only 0.9% of vehicle fires.

Smoke alarms

Of the 19,327 buildings damaged over the period 2016 to 2018, the same report still indicates, 11,557 (60%) of the buildings had at least one smoke alarm, but it worked in only 7,530 (65%) of these installations. . So, writes the MSP of all the damaged buildings, only 39% had a smoke alarm that was in place and that worked.

Finally, 23% of the damaged buildings had no detectors, but they may have had another fire alarm system. Overall, 77% of damaged buildings had no fixed extinguishing system in fires that occurred from 2016 to 2018; 11% of the damaged buildings still had at least one complete or partial system or one-time automatic extinguishing device.

Fires per 100,000 inhabitants by region

In 2018, the five administrative regions of Quebec with the most fires declared per 100,000 inhabitants were:

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