Each year as summer turns to fall, we see an uptick in home fires from increased heating device use, cooking, and other everyday activities. We know more about how to protect ourselves from fire than ever, but there are still situations that highlight opportunities to do more. Last week, Jefferson County suffered a tragic loss, when a mother and son lost their lives to an early morning fire that engulfed their home. Though Kenneth Roland and his brother successfully escaped, Roland’s brother re-entered the house for their mother. Neither reemerged.
According to a 2020 report, more than one-quarter (27 percent) of reported fires happen in home environments. As a result, the importance of working smoke alarms, home fire sprinklers, and an escape plan as a complete fire prevention strategy cannot be overstated. A fire today can become deadly in as little as two minutes—making every second count. Smoke alarms provide vital early detection while home fire sprinklers begin controlling the flames before firefighters arrive. Installing both reduces the risk of dying in a home fire by 82 percent. Sadly, the Roland home had neither.
Every casualty from fire is deeply felt. With continued dedication to safe practices and informing ourselves and others, we can bring the number of these tragedies closer to zero. Fire Department Deputy Chief Stephen Williams is using this horrible tragedy to remind his community to take fire safety seriously by encouraging the public to confirm that heat sources work properly and are well-maintained as we bring out stoves and heaters that have been dormant for the turn to cooler months. He also stressed not going back into a fire for any reason.
NFPA also has these reminders for staying safe in the event of a fire:
- Have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and inside and outside each sleeping area
- Make an escape plan with two routes out of every room and decide on an outside meeting place
- Practice your home escape plan twice a year in realistic conditions
- When the smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside
- Don’t try to fight the fire yourself, call 911
- If you are building a new home, install home fire sprinklers