Fire Prevention Week targets home fire prevention

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By Carol A. Clark

Recently released fire statistics show a civilian fire death occured every 153 minutes last year and a civilian fire injury every 30 minutes in the U.S.

Also, home fires caused 84 percent of all civilian fire deaths in 2007, which is an 11 percent increase over 2006 and why this year's Fire Prevention Week theme is “Prevent Home Fires.”

Fire Prevention Week runs through Saturday and Los Alamos Fire Department personnel are out in force visiting the schools and providing a variety of educational activities aimed at teaching home fire prevention.

This morning firefighters presented fire safety lessons to students at Children’s Montessori School.

“Although thankfully Los Alamos did not experience a fire fatality in 2007, we did respond to 11 residential fires with the majority of them being cooking related,” said Los Alamos Fire Marshal/Assistant Fire Chief Michael Thompson.

“Consistently in the United States, residential fires are most often caused by cooking, heating, and intentionally set fires. When you take into consideration fire deaths, the causes generally are intentionally set, smoking, and open flames such as embers from fireplaces.”

In an effort to combat these causes, the LAFD is teaching an advising residents to:

• Keep cooking space and stove tops clear of combustible materials;

• maintain a three-foot kid free zone around stoves and turn all pot handles inward;

• always monitor cooking and never leave anything unattended;

• ensure all smoke detectors are working properly;

• never smoke when drowsy;

• have all chimneys and furnaces inspected and cleaned annually or more often as needed; and

• keep drapes and other combustible materials at least three feet away from any heating appliances.

American fire departments collectively responded to some 1,557,500 fires last year, according to the National Fire Prevention Association's 2007 Fire Loss Report.

These fires resulted in 3,430 civilian fire fatalities, 17,675 civilian fire injuries and an estimated $14,639,000,000 in direct property loss.

Fires accounted for 6 percent of the 25,334,500 total calls received by fire departments. Nine percent of those calls were false alarms and 62 percent were for emergency medical services.

For information, access NFPA.org.