Paul Januszewski, Fire Chief
North Haven, CT 06473
For Immediate Release
Monday, Oct. 2, 2017
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
North Haven Fire Department Issues Guidelines in Light of U.S. Fire Administration Fire Risk Report
NORTH HAVEN — Chief Paul Januszewski and the North Haven Fire Department are issuing public guidelines, advice and warnings after officials reviewed the latest fire danger report from the federal government.
The U.S. Fire Administration Fire Risk Report analyzes data from fires reported in all 50 states to warn fire departments and the public about dangerous and deadly trends. In 2015, the most recent year with full data available for the report, 3,360 deaths and 15,700 injuries in the U.S. were caused by fires.
- Risk by age: In 2015, adults ages 50 or older had a greater relative risk of dying in fires than the general population. Those ages 85 and older had the highest risk of fire death. Adults ages 85 and older, as well as those ages 25 to 64, were also at greater risk of fire injury than the general population. In addition, while lower than the relative risk of the general population, children ages 4 and younger faced an elevated risk of both injury and death in a fire when compared with older children (ages 5 to 14).
- Risk by gender: Males were 1.7 times more likely to die in fires than females.
- Risk by race: African-Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives were at a greater relative risk of dying in a fire than the general population.
While aggressive fire prevention and educational programs have resulted in children having a lower risk of dying or being injured by a fire, kids remain at risk. There are many things that parents can do to further reduce the risk:
- Smoke detectors are vital (and required) but they are not enough. Studies references in the report show that children are groggy for a longer period of time than adults after being awakened by a smoke detector. Having a family escape plan and teaching children how to escape from the home during an emergency can further reduce the risk. Smoke detectors are also less effective when children are home alone, so for that and many other reasons, adults should be home when children are sleeping.
- Restrict children’s access to potential sources of danger. Twenty six percent of children injured or killed by fire were “playing with a heat source” like a lighter, matches, fireworks, or candles.
The report notes the risk among the elderly, who are killed in fires at a rate of 2.7 times that of the rest of the population. Poor housing maintenance, a lack of working smoke detectors, substandard apartment housing, and declining health and senses among some seniors are all contributing factors nationwide. The North Haven Fire Department offers a free service where they will inspect a house or apartment to ensure that exits are clear, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working, and there are no imminent dangers in the house.
Poverty is also a key risk factor. The report states: “Housing for the poor is often substandard. Typically, such housing has not been well-maintained. Building structures can be compromised, and building systems, such as electrical and mechanical, are often outdated, inadequate or not operational. The result is a higher likelihood of damaged or fraying electrical wiring, faulty heating, and worn-out household appliances. Heating in particular represents an elevated fire danger to older adults.”
The North Haven Fire Department is committed to working with community organizations, religious groups, civic associations or any other group that can help spread the word about fire prevention. The department also has printed fire safety materials available from the U.S. Fire Administration in a variety of languages.
“Preventing death and injury by fire is the business of everyone in the community, and the North Haven Fire Department is a willing partner with any family, individual, or organization who is interested in improving safety,” Chief Januszewski said. “I am grateful for the resources of the U.S. Fire Administration, as this annual report goes a long way toward our mission of preventing the loss of life and property from fire.”