As reported in the Democrat on Friday, February 26, Sullivan County is experiencing an increase in structure fires this year. According to Sullivan County Fire Coordinator, John Hauschild, there were …
As reported in the Democrat on Friday, February 26, Sullivan County is experiencing an increase in structure fires this year. According to Sullivan County Fire Coordinator, John Hauschild, there were 27 structure fires in 2020. Since January 1, 2021 there have been 42 so far.
While the exact cause for such a large increase is likely due to a myriad of different factors, there's simple steps we all can take to prevent fires, protect our homes and keep our families safe.
Keep space heaters away from curtains, furniture or anything that could cause a fire to easily spread. When using space heaters, be careful not to overload your electrical outlets.
One of the best things a homeowner can do to prevent fires is to perform regular preventative maintenance on wood stoves, chimneys, dryer vents and other heating utilities.
According to the latest statistics available from the Chimney Safety Institute of America, there are over 25,000 chimney fires every year that are responsible for around $125 million dollars in property damage.
Built up creosote on the inside of chimneys is responsible for many of those fires, along with deficiencies in chimney linings and structures that allow high temperatures, embers and sparks to reach combustible areas that are adjacent to your chimney or fireplace. Homes with chimneys should perform maintenance every year before the cold temperatures arrive in order to avoid winter fires.
We've also seen our local fire departments respond to a number of roof collapses over the past few weeks due to dangerous amounts of snow collecting on homes, garages and covered porches. It's important to realize just how much weight is sitting on your roof and take necessary steps to alleviate that when needed.
In need of volunteers
It's no secret that many rural fire departments across the country are seeing a decrease in the number of new volunteers joining their ranks. According to Hauschild and Commissioner of Public Safety, Rick Sauer, the departments are holding their own, but they are more often calling for mutual aid from neighboring jurisdictions.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) most recently reported a 16.23 percent drop in volunteer firefighters nationwide between 2015 and 2017. They said that volunteer firefighter numbers are at their lowest recorded levels since the NFPA began the survey in 1983.
The reasons for this are varied and include lack of time, increased training requirements and shifting demographics as younger people leave rural communities. As a county, we need to do more to examine the core issues causing a decrease in volunteers and then collaborate on a plan of action to address it.
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