Barrie Fire offers safety tips for city's homeless encampments

A safety message from Barrie firefighters has been presented to organizations who are on the front line of the city’s homelessness crisis.

Barrie Fire recently hosted a presentation which deputy fire chief Carrie Clark said was for the outreach workers working with the city’s unhoused and those living in homeless encampments.

“We’re helping to educate the outreach workers on what a campsite fire safety plan could look like," Clark said. "One of the main things is location and how we get to them if they require assistance. Most often, there isn’t an address and we are hoping the outreach workers can help get some signage up for the What3Words app.”

What3Words is a geo-code system designed to identify any location within approximately three metres. It was used successfully in the 2021 rescue of a missing family in the city’s Ardagh Bluffs nature area.

The app has placed every spot on Earth in a grid and given locations a three-word name to identify it. That name never changes. 

A display tent was set up at the Dunlop Street West fire headquarters and the sign on the tent had that location’s three words that identify it on the app.

“Where we are is the access point to this location and the station’s driveway, which is identified by the words 'ally-plotted-shipped',” Clark said. “So if anyone typed those words in the app, they would be directed to the driveway off of Eccles Street.”

The push for homeless encampment safety comes after fire-related deaths this year at Milligan’s Pond on Feb. 8 and June 4.

While Barrie Fire officials are not condoning encampments throughout the city, they say safety is paramount. 

“We’re not permitting it, we’re not promoting it, but we know they’re there and we just want people to be as safe as possible,” Clark said.


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