In accordance with October being designated National Fire Prevention Month, the Amarillo Fire Department is urging residents to embrace the effort to increase fire safety measures.
During Tuesday’s Amarillo City Council meeting, city officials issued a proclamation in recognition of the fire safety designation, noting “fires cause a staggering number of personal injuries and casualties to our citizens, as well as tremendous damage and loss…adding loss of life and destruction by fire can be reduced by focusing public attention upon facts about fires and fire prevention”.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, ensuring properly functioning smoke alarms are installed throughout the home, one on each level and in every bedroom, is the first line of defense for fire prevention.Officials said the leading cause of accidental deaths is carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas impossible to detect without a sensing device. The Journal of the American Medical Association said carbon monoxide poisoning serves as one of the nation’s leading causes of accidental poisoning and is responsible for an average of 450 deaths each year.
“Fire Prevention Month is a good time for everyone to practice awareness in their home,” Amarillo Fire Chief Jeff Greenlee said. “Of course, changing the batteries in the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms is always good this time of the year, with the time change coming up. The majority of fatalities in this country happen in the home and with today’s home being composed so much of plastics, the fire is more intense and the smoke is much more toxic. Most of this is preventable, so please join us in practicing home safety this month.”
AFD Public Information Officer Capt. Kyle Joy said the department averages 350 to 360 fires per year. He said the goals are to spread awareness of fire danger in homes and businesses, place emphasis on addressing those hazards to reduce fire loss and provide fire safety education to reduce fire deaths.
The NFPA said the most common cause of house fires is unattended cooking, with the second being faulty extension cords, and emphasizes having fire extinguishers – and knowing how to use them – is an important part of maintaining a safe home. The Association recommends placing extinguishers in each area of the home where a fire could potentially occur, including the kitchen, living room, bedrooms and garage. They also said it is important to notice the age of extension cords and be aware they are used for temporary power. Mechanical issues can allow wires to touch and cause fires.
Less than 50 percent of homeowners have a fire escape plan and even less practice it regularly, according to the NFPA, adding as part of the plan, homeowners should equip second-floor sleeping areas with escape ladders and discuss how to use them. In the event of an emergency, exit the home, stay outside and wait at the predesignated meeting place away from the home. When a fire department responds, officials said, they want to know if everyone is out.
AFD and city officials said combined efforts of the fire department, public fire safety educators, teachers and others have helped to reduce incidence of fire and deaths, injury and property losses.