This month, I turn the column over to my colleague in public safety, Chief Larry Labbe of the DeKalb County Fire Marshal’s Office. Our friends at DeKalb Fire have an important message they wanted to share that may just keep your family and your home a little bit safer.
Since the beginning of the “COVID work from home” environment, the fire service in general has seen an uptick in residential fires. Most of those fires have revolved around actions and/or inactions taken by the resident. DeKalb County Fire Rescue specific data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) reveals a prominence in cooking related fires as the number one cause of fires in 2020. And, in the same time frame, there have been seven residential cooking related fires in the City of Tucker. In 2020 in the City of Tucker, 77 percent of all reported fires were related to cooking.
Overall, and prior to the pandemic, the City of Tucker had seen a decrease in fire incidents. From 2018 to 2019, the number of fire incidents decreased by 65 percent. From 2019 to 2020, the number of fires decreased by 60 percent. Looking at 2018 to 2020, fire incidents in Tucker decreased by almost 61 percent.The fire totals are:
- 2018: 23 fire incidents
- 2019: 15 fire incidents
- 2020: 9 fire incidents
In order to continue the trend of reducing fire incidents in the City of Tucker, we turn our attention to fire prevention. The DeKalb County Fire Rescue Fire Marshal Division has a proactive Public Education Section that continues to provide programs both virtual and in person. While we do focus on preventing all accidental fires, here are some of our DCFR featured programs:
- SafeKids Car Seat Program
- Pedestrian Safety
- Youth Fire Setter
- Senior Safety Program
Staying present, alert and not impaired while cooking will significantly reduce the risk of cooking related fires in the home. Unattended cooking is the primary cause of cooking fires. One cooking related fire and life safety education initiative is “Stop the Scald”. This program specifically addresses protecting infants and toddlers from scald burns by simply turning the handle in to prevent pots or pans from being pulled down from the stove. Another way to keep toddlers safe is creating “safe zones” around cooking appliances and outdoor cooking equipment. The suggested safe area around stoves and ovens is a three-foot diameter. Finally, another cause of fires is burnt food on the stove. Setting timers, staying in the kitchen and being alert are the best ways to avoid burning food.
DeKalb County Fire Rescue has a Planning and Appraisal Division that constantly captures data and provides analytical support. This article and our ability to use data in fire prevention planning would not be possible without the assistance of our Planning and Appraisal Division. Thank you for taking the time to read this column; I hope it makes a difference in some small way.