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Mayor and Firefighters Urge Families To Prevent Home Fires

Monday October 6, 2008

Initiative is part of National Fire Prevention Week

Mayor Jerry Abramson and local fire chiefs today encouraged families to learn ways to prevent fires in their homes as part of National Fire Fire  fighters at the scene of a house fire.Prevention Week, which runs from October 5 to October 11. This year’s theme is “Prevent Home Fires”.

“Since 2007, four lives have been lost in fires in our city,” said Abramson. “Home fires can spread quickly, trapping families inside. It’s critical that families know what they can do to prevent those fires from starting.”

Last year, firefighters fought 1,610 structure fires in Louisville that resulted in five deaths. The National Fire Prevention Association reported that in 2007, 84 percent of all fire deaths were caused by home fires. Nationally, 2,865 people were killed by home fires last year and 13,600 were injured.

“We want to show people how to avoid risky habits or behaviors so they can prevent fires in their homes,” said Louisville Fire Chief Greg Frederick. “Having a working smoke detector in every home is a critical element of fire safety. We hope sharing this information will reduce the numbers of fires and injuries in our city.”

Frederick said the information on home fires is especially important to consider now, before the weather gets cold and people begin heating their homes.

Louisville firefighters will kick off Fire Prevention Week on Tuesday, Oct. 7.  Frederick and several suburban fire chiefs will lay a wreath at the Firefighter Memorial in Jefferson Square at 10:30 a.m. After the ceremony, city and suburban firefighters will meet the mayor and fire chiefs at the National City Plaza, located at Fifth and Market streets, where they’ll give away information on fire safety and serve free chili.

On Sunday, October 12, firefighters invite families to celebrate the 25th annual Great Louisville Fire Drill from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Waterfront Park. Visitors can enjoy free food, live entertainment, and fire prevention education. Free parking is available at the garage on Witherspoon St. Families are encouraged to practice their own escape drill on October 12.

“It’s never too early to start talking to your kids about fire safety,” said Paul Barth, chief of McMahan Fire District and the mayor’s liaison to suburban fire districts. “During Fire Prevention Week, we’re looking forward to helping families learn how to avoid some common causes of house fires. We want to keep everyone safe.”

Fast Facts about House Fires

  • Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home fire injuries.
  • The majority of home fires – 40% – start in the kitchen.
  • Unattended cooking is the leading factor contributing to ignition in home cooking fires, accounting for one-third of such fires. More than half of all cooking fire injuries occurred when people tried to fight the fire themselves.
  • Extension cord fires outnumbered fires beginning with attached or unattached power cords by more than two-to-one.
  • Smoking materials (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. Roughly one of every four fire deaths per year in 2002-2005 was attributed to smoking materials. 
  • Older adults are at the highest risk of death or injury from smoking-material fires even though they are less likely to smoke than younger adults. 
  • The most common material first ignited in home smoking-material fire deaths were mattresses and bedding and upholstered furniture. 
  • The top five days for home candle fires are Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Halloween.

Tips to Prevent House Fires

  • Make sure you have operating smoke alarms in your home. Having them will alert you to the early detection of smoke and fire. Check the batteries twice a year.
  • Keep matches and lighters up and away from children.
  • Never leave candles or cigarettes unattended. 
  • Don’t leave food cooking on a stovetop unattended.
  • Ask smokers to smoke outside.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn.