Residential fires in Springfield homes fall to 10-year low - FOX 5 KRBK is Springfield MO source for News and Weather

Residential fires in Springfield homes fall to 10-year low

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Springfield, Mo. -- (1/8/2018) Just 8 months into the Springfield Fire Department's most aggressive community risk reduction campaign to date, residential fires and fire-related injuries in the City of Springfield have fallen to their lowest numbers in 10 years, with fire-related fatalities in 2017 also below average. In 2017, there were 218 home fires in Springfield, down from a high of 288 in 2008. There were 12 fire-related injuries, compared to a high of 20 in 2009. In 2017, no one died as a result of a fire in their home. The City did, however, have one fire-related fatality. Tragically, a man died from injuries sustained when gasoline fumes ignited at a gas pump In November. In 2016, 5 people died in fires in the City of Springfield. The average number of fire-related fatalities per year in Springfield is 3.2. 

Chief David Pennington says many factors have contributed to the declining numbers of home fires and fire-related injuries, including Project RED Zone. In April, the Fire Department launched Project RED Zone, an aggressive community risk reduction campaign aimed at reducing home fires, fire-related injuries and deaths in the community.

"The goal of Project RED Zone is to provide residents with the tools and resources they need to proactively reduce their risk of fire, and to prevent, prepare for and properly respond should a fire occur," he said. "Our hope is that with the help of Project RED Zone and the support of the community, we will continue to see improvements so that by the end of 2018, not one citizen dies or is injured as a result of a fire."

During the first phase of Project RED Zone, Springfield firefighters spent Saturday afternoons canvassing neighborhoods in Springfield with the highest incidence of fires. During the canvasses, they talk to residents about fire safety, test smoke alarms, and install new alarms or batteries in homes at no charge. To date, firefighters have installed nearly 1,100 alarms as a result of Project RED Zone alone. In 2017, they installed a total of 2,900 alarms. Project RED Zone has been made possible with the help of federal grant dollars and donations from the American RED Cross and Safe Kids Springfield.

Despite successes, Chief Pennington recognizes work still needs to be done. Department statistics show in 2017, smoke alarms were installed in just 52% of homes where fires occurred. Of those, they were operational in 55%. "We still have work ahead of us to ensure that every home in Springfield has working smoke alarms," Pennington says. 

Along with fire-related injuries and deaths, nearly every major category of home fires were down in 2017 compared to 2016. Cooking fires fell nearly 10%, but remain the leading cause of home fires in Springfield. Electrical fires fell 13%. Of all the major fire types, only careless smoking and home heating fires posted increases in 2017 over the year prior. Approximately 12% of home fires are caused by careless smoking. Another 9% are caused by home heating. Overall, 3/4 of all home fires are accidental and can be prevented by following some basic fire safety tips.

If you smoke:

  • Use a sturdy ashtray or can filled with sand to collect ashes.  Do not use a flammable container such as Tupperware and never use a potted plant.  Potting soil contains combustible materials.
  •  Ashtrays should be set on something sturdy and hard to ignite, like a table.
  • Put it out.  The cigarette needs be completely stubbed out in the ashtray.
  • Do not let cigarette butts pile up on top of one another.  Empty your ashtray often by first soaking the cigarette butts in water.  NEVER toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash.
  • If you are drowsy, put it out.  Fires caused by cigarettes often start on or next to the victim – in bed, on a sofa or in the trash.
  • Use a sturdy ashtray or can filled with sand to collect ashes.  Do not use a flammable container such as Tupperware and never use a potted plant.  Potting soil contains combustible materials.
  • Ashtrays should be set on something sturdy and hard to ignite, like a table.
  • Put it out.  The cigarette needs be completely stubbed out in the ashtray.
  • Do not let cigarette butts pile up on top of one another.  Empty your ashtray often by first soaking the cigarette butts in water.  NEVER toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash.
  • If you are drowsy, put it out.  Fires caused by cigarettes often start on or next to the victim – in bed, on a sofa or in the trash.

Cooking safety tips:

  • Stay in the kitchen while cooking and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.  For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.
  • If you choose to try and put out the fire yourself, be sure everyone else is evacuating and someone has called 911.

Home heating tips:

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Have a qualified professional install stationary space heating equipment, water heaters or central heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.

Other tips:

  • ·Don’t overload electrical outlets.
  • Avoid use of extension cords, if possible.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children.
  • Keep furnace/water heater closet free of storage
  • Clean your dryer lint trap after each use.
  • Avoid use of candles.
  • Have working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level and in every bedroom. For a free smoke alarm or battery, call (417) 874-2300.

(Media Release)

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