Researchers study residential cooking fires

Posted: March 13, 2015 9:30 a.m.

The devastating result of careless cooking.
The devastating result of careless cooking. Photo courtesy of Regina Fire and Protective Services

The Faculty of Arts' Community Research Unit is lending a hand to Regina Fire & Protection Services to address a critical public safety issue.

Careless cooking is the number one cause of residential fires in Regina and in April 2013, Regina Fire & Protective Services approached the University seeking research assistance to reduce these fires.

“In order to develop effective public education programming, we need to know who the target audience is and their behaviour in the kitchen,” says Candace Liskowich, Public Education Officer, Regina Fire & Protective Services. “We approached the University, because we didn’t have good demographic information on who was causing cooking fires and why these fires are increasing in our community.”

The Community Research Unit in the Faculty of Arts worked with the Regina Fire & Protective Services to determine what was required and in June, 2013, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop this statistical information.

“We partner with community groups who are looking for expertise available at the University,” says Naomi Beingessner, Coordinator, Community Research Unit. “Our role is to make connections between community groups and University researchers, in this case with Dr. Rozzet Jurdi in the Department of Sociology and Social Studies.”

Dr. Jurdi helped develop a survey that each Fire Captain filled out whenever they responded to a cooking fire during the past year.

“Preliminary analysis of about 400 surveys point to some important areas to consider when developing public education programs. For example, the data shows that cooking left unattended is the key factor contributing to the ignition or spread of fire, and “distracted/forgot” is the leading reason why cooking was left unattended. The data also reveals differences by sex, age, country of birth and length of residence in Canada,” says Dr. Jurdi, who has volunteered her time to work on the project.

Dr. Jurdi is analyzing the data in order to prepare a report that will be completed in May and presented to the City for further consideration. The research project has also been extended for another year to provide additional demographic/behavioural information.  

“This has been a great collaborative process and I’m very pleased that we have been able to extend the research for another year so we will have even more comprehensive data to use in helping to prevent fires started while cooking and reduce related injuries and even fatalities,” notes Liskowich.

This research embodies the University of Regina’s 2015-2020 strategic plan priorities of Research Impact and Commitment to our Communities.

For information about the University’s strategic plan:

For information on the Community Research Unit: