Fire Fatalities On the Rise

JONESBORO, AR -- Firefighters are speaking out about the high number of fire fatalities already, just 2 months into 2007.

"The national average for fire deaths is 1.2. Jonesboro is at 1.4," says Craig Davenport, the Jonesboro Fire Marshall.

On February 7th, we showed you the story from Steele, Missouri of a fatal house fire that claimed the lives of 2 young children. Then, on February 20th, another house fire kills a Jonesboro woman. Just 6 days later, an 18 month old baby dies in a Greene County house fire and just this past weekend in Lawrence County, 2 were killed in their blazing home in Hoxie.

"Most of them are preventable, the vast majority," says Davenport.

Nationwide, in February alone nearly 100 people perished in house fires. A statistic that firefighters say is needless tragedies when sometimes all it takes is a simple working smoke detector.

"Change the batteries on your smoke detectors. I know in the United States, there are more homes without working smoke detectors than there are with. That's something that needs to be fixed," says Davenport.

And if you can't fix it for yourself, Davenport says they'll even do it for you.

"We've got a program here in Jonesboro that if you need a smoke detector, all you got to do is call the Safe Jonesboro Coalition or the Jonesboro Fire Department. We'll get you a smoke detector or come put batteries in the smoke detector that you have," says Davenport.

He says this is especially important for elderly people who sometimes can't change their batteries. The service is there. It just takes a simple phone call.

Life-Saving Suggestions from the International Fire Chiefs Association:
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to be sure they are working properly.
  • Have an escape plan with a meeting place.
  • Once you exit your home, DO NOT return. Too many people lose their lives going back into a burning home.
  • Stoves are not made for heating homes.
  • Supplemental heating devices should be used and maintained in accordance with manufacturer recommendations. Keep combustibles clear. Do not leave supplemental heating devices unattended.
  • If you are burning wood in your fireplace, make sure your chimneys are properly maintained. That goes for your furnace, as well.
  • If candles are necessary, use them in a safe environment in a fireproof container and away from children. Do not leave them unattended.
  • And for the long term, consider getting a residential fire sprinkler. According to statistics, the risk of death by fire is reduced by 82 percent when smoke detectors are accompanied with residential fire sprinklers.