House fires hit 10 year low in Springfield
As outside burn warnings during the fall turn into space heater cautions in the winter, we are always trying to protect our families and our homes from fire. On Monday, the City of Springfield released a new report that house fires are are on the decline.
"House fires are at a 10 year low in the City of Springfield and we certainly attribute that to a lot of factors, one of those being our partnerships in the community and the work of the citizens of Springfield," said Springfield Fire Department Chief David Pennington.
Pennington said working to lower house fires in the city has been a long time project for his department. It has used Project RED Zone as a way to promote fire safety and install almost 3,000 smoke alarms in Springfield.
"Project RED Zone, specifically this piece of it, we are in neighborhoods that our data showed they were at a high risk for fires. We spent Saturday afternoons canvassing those neighborhoods, knocking on doors, visiting with residents and putting up smoke alarms or batteries in the homes where they were needed," Chief Pennington said.
Stacy Burks, the executive director for the Red Cross of Southern Missouri said the numbers in Springfield show the importance of fire education, but not the whole picture of house fires in the Ozarks.
"It is fantastic to hear that Springfield Fire Department's numbers are down so far this year and in Greene County alone, Red Crosses numbers are down about four cases from July 1 this year compared to last year," Burks said. "However, throughout our chapter, 29 counties wide, we are not down. We are actually up about 10 percent in home fires this year and in number of cases and clients served," she added.
Burks says that 10 percent equates to an extra 32 fires and 48 clients in the Ozarks during 2017. It also means the Red Cross provided an extra $8,000 to those who lost their home to a fire. Burks believes fire prevention starts with education.
"Once the smoke alarm goes off, they have two minutes to get out of their house so we want to make sure they themselves, their family, has practiced that route and they know exactly what to do when their smoke alarm goes off," she said.
Chief Pennington said he and his team know a lot more work needs to be done despite the successful milestone.
"The big thing is that we are proud of the accomplishment but we know we are not done. Its a new year, the beat goes on. We still need to continue to be fire aware, be fire safe, make sure we have working smoke alarms and you know, 50 percent of the homes where we had fires last year did not have a working smoke alarm," he said.
If you don't have a smoke alarm there are multiple agencies that can provide one. Fire departments recommend stopping by a firehouse where many are kept on hand for free. The Red Cross also said it provides free smoke detectors to those in need.
If you can't make it to one of those agencies, visit the website, getasmokealarm.org to register for a free smoke detector.