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176 Deaths From Fire

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      NOVEMBER 1972      v03 n10 p04  
In the past four years there have been 668 homes destroyed by fire on Indian Reserves across Canada. This has resulted in a total of 176 deaths or 44 per year. This is far above the national average.

Of the 176 people that died 119 of these were children under the age of 6.

The chief cause has been poor stove pipes and overheated stoves. The second major cause has been electrical fires resulting from poor wiring and maintenance.

What do these shocking facts tell us? Our death rate from fire is far more than the rest of Canada and our housing is a far lower standard than other Canadians.

The cheap homes designed by Indian Affairs look good on the outside but are left unfinished in the inside. Cheap materials such as thin plywood are used instead of proper wallboard. In a home with plaster or gyp rock on the walls a person has at least a chance of escaping in the event of fire.

Also the use of oil base paint increases the fire hazard. Latex paint will not burn but oil base paint will burn with severe intensity.

There should be an immediate investigation into Indian Affairs housing policies to determine their safety and fire proofing.

These shocking statistics are partially the responsibility of the bureaucratic budget cutting on behalf of the Department of Indian Affairs. This unnecessary loss of Indian lives must cease.