NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) – House fires are more prevalent during the winter than in any other season. This is due partly to an increase in the number of cooking and heating fires. The Newport Fire Department says firefighters are commonly called to chimney or heating fires during the winter months, but the interim fire chief is trying to head off calls for help by passing out free smoke alarms.
"Since the winter season's our busiest season with all fire departments, we're trying to give all the citizens of Newport, that want them, a smoke detector," Alan Gansz said.
Gansz is providing smoke alarms at no cost to anyone living in the Newport city limits. The fire department purchased more than 70 smoke alarms after receiving a grant last year. The giveaway comes at the peak season for Gansz.
"A lot of people start up their heaters for the first time. They have chimneys, fireplaces," he added.
In an average year, the U.S. Fire Administration estimates heating is the cause of 17 percent of structure fires, but that statistic jumps to 27 percent during the winter. Newport firefighters have yet to respond to any calls related to heating, but the temperature has just recently dropped. Gansz expects the number of calls to rise soon, but says many fires can be avoided with a working smoke alarm.
"Most of your fatalities, there's no smoke detectors. People don't know there's a fire in the house," Gansz said.
Rick Beaver took home two free smoke detectors recently and plans to get two more for his business.
"It's something I always intended to get for the store but just never have, so we got those to put in to protect our inventory," said Beaver, owner of Fast Cash Pawn in Newport. "I would say it's something that anyone would need to take advantage of."
Residents are asked to stop by the Newport Fire Department or call 870-523-2895 to find out more.