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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Fire deaths continue to plague Springfield
Springfield -- Despite a reduction in residential fires overall in 2016, Springfield's fire death rate continues to trend upward, according to a year-end report. Department statistics show firefighters responded to 220 residential fires in 2016, down 6% over 2015 and down 14% since 2012. But at 5 deaths in 2016, fire-related fatalities were up 25% over 2015 and 57% over 2012. Springfield's fire death rate (average deaths per million population) is up to 24.7 - a steady increase since 1990 and more than double the national rate of 10.7 (NFPA, 2014).
"The Springfield Fire Department will continue to find new ways to address this very concerning issue," said Fire Chief David Hall. "Everything is being considered, from evaluating our response rates and coverage areas to implementing new fire safety programs." The Chief plans to share some of these proposals with City Council on January 10.
Accidental fires continue to be the most common cause of residential fires, with cooking fires leading the way at 33%. Intentional fires accounted for 16% of all residential fires in 2016, up 30% since 2012.
"A large number of these incendiary fires are occurring in vacant structures," said Chief Hall. "The City is already taking steps to encourage owners to better secure these structures. We hope and expect these changes to have an impact on the number of incendiary fires in 2017."
While the fire death rate continues to be a primary concern, the Department has some notable successes in 2016. Following an aggressive public education campaign, the number of careless smoking fires is continuing to decrease, down 15% over 2015 and 40% since 2012. Fire-related injuries are also falling, down from a high of 21 in 2012. In 2016, there were 9 injuries reported in residential fires, a 57% decrease in 5 years.
"The Department was the recipient of a $27,000 federal grant in 2016 funding public education efforts," said Chief Hall. "We hope the positive changes continue as we partner with various agencies and organizations to bolster our campaign."
Also noted in the year end report is that bomb calls were up 30% in 2016 over the year prior. Fire marshals responded to 109 bomb calls during the year. Of those, 52% of them were “unfounded,” meaning there was no threat associated with the incident. A majority of the founded threats were out of Springfield’s jurisdiction.
For more information, contact the Springfield Fire Department media line at 874-2301.