07/18/2013 08:30 EDT | Updated 09/17/2013 05:12 EDT

Ban barbecues from balconies, fire chief says

A B.C. fire chief says the province needs to do more to prevent balcony fires in apartment buildings after a barbecue sparked a massive fire in a Kelowna apartment complex, leaving dozens of people homeless.

Surrey fire Chief Len Garis recommends either installing spinklers or heat detectors on all apartment balconies or banning barbecues on balconies altogether.

"These are very significant fires and do a lot of damage," Garis said.

"From a strategy perspective there are things we can do. We have to recognize the problem. Our research clearly tells us that these fires extend well beyond where most other fires do. And it is a severe vulnerability associated with these buildings."

Ten per cent of apartment complex fires in B.C. start on balconies, according to Garis.

Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condo Home Owner's Association of B.C., says it takes a vote of three-quarters of the condo owners to put a barbecue ban in place.

"I know everyone likes their barbecues," he said. "It's a bit of a difficulty to give them up for a lot of folks."