Understanding and Improving Residential Safety Compliance in Rural Off-grid BC Communities

The Client, BC Safety Authority

Our client, the BC Safety Authority (BCSA), is an independent, self-funded organization mandated to oversee the safe installation and operation of technical systems and equipment including utilities at home.

 

As  BCSA has limited data on these off-grid homes, they are seeking our help in understanding safety compliancy in these communities and proposing actions that they or other concerned groups can take to tackle the problem.

Our challenge is to:

 

1.  measure safety compliance in off-grid BC communities

2.  identify factors for high or low safety compliance

3.  identify opportunities to increase safety compliance via creative use of existing resources and new strategies

The Challenge

The Story, BC’s Off-grid communities

This consulting project was initiated in response to unresolved home accidents in rural off-the-grid homes, one of which made headlines as a family of four in Ashcroft, BC passed away from carbon monoxide poisoning due to an unregulated self-installed water heater [1,2].

 

Off-grid communities are officially defined as communities that are not connected to the North American electric grid nor to the piped natural gas network [3,4]. In reality, these communities also drill their own wells, hook up electrical diesel generators, electrical wiring, sewage plumbing, build their own roads, build their own homes and insulate from the elements. On top of that, these utilities need to have their own safety equipment such as smoke and gas detectors, electrical fuses, fire sprinklers in addition to routine maintenance and proper installation.

 

In the city, these utilities are well integrated into every home, strictly enforced and routinely checked by licensed contractors. In off-grid communities however, these systems are almost non-existent and there is a general resistance from the community towards relatively expensive and inaccessible licensed contractors and towards regulations.

The Challenge