Rural house fires on the rise

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo - The Willard Fire Protection District one fire department in the Ozarks which is seeing an increase in the number of house fires each year.

I talked to Fire Chief Ken Scott to try and find out why."

"The outlying communities such as Willard, Republic, Nixa are growing areas," said Fire Chief Ken Scott. "The population base demands more public services and that taxes the schools and the fire districts," He added.

Willard saw a 4 percent increase in house fires between 2016 and 2017. Scott says rural fire districts are always at a disadvantage compared to larger cities when providing fire safety education because it is based on population.

"It is also based on demand. So being new to the district and to the area as far as fire services go, we are behind. Willard specifically, we are covering 72 square miles with three people on duty every day," Scott said.

Rural towns also face the trouble of not being on a water line, means they have no access to fire hydrants or immediate sources of water.

Despite the struggles, Willard's fire district is making improvements, thank in part to multiple donations from the community. Those donations led to the installation of more than 200 smoke alarms in homes that were previously unprotected. Fire Chief Scott said every home in Willard should be equipped with a smoke detector.

"We are definitely on the right path, obviously we are dependent on the tax payer for tax dollars and hopefully the growth in our district will keep up with the demand for our services," Scott said.

Willard Fire Protection District will hand out more smoke alarms during daylight savings time. If you do not have a working smoke detector you can stop by the station or call and the fire department will come install one for you.