The statistics do not lie. A recent NFPA Journal article underscored today's rural fire problem, stating:
- "rural America is becoming more rural." In 2000, 21 percent of Americans resided in rural areas. According to recent estimates, that figure is now as low as 15 percent.
- The national average for the rate of fires per thousand people is 4.5. In communities with 2,500 to 4,999 people, the rate is 6.8. In communities under 2,500, the rate surges to 10.8, more than double the national average. The trend "holds true for civilian fire deaths," notes the article.
- small communities rely on volunteer firefighters, but those volunteers are getting older and replacements are tougher to find.
Response times to fires can also be impacted in rural areas. "To get down a narrow road, to get out [to a fire], is it 10 minutes out of town? Fifteen minutes out of town?" posed Lane Fire Authority Fire Marshal Dean Chappell during a recent interview with a CBS news station in Oregon.
Home fire sprinklers can be your best line of defense to combat the safety challenges of living in a rural home, Chappell said. "If a fire starts, that little sprinkler is going to contain it until somebody gets there," he told the CBS station.