SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- City firefighters responded to 1,024 fires in 2012, compared to 951 in 2011. That’s a nearly 8 percent increase. However, those numbers don’t tell the whole story. The number of residential fires fell from 205 in 2011 to 186 in 2012 – a drop of 10 percent.
Drought could be to blame
The increase in fires is most likely due to the dry conditions, particularly during the summer. The number of outside fires increased 36 percent in 2012, going from 199 in 2011 to 270 in 2012. Most of those consisted of grass fires, brush fires and natural vegetation fires.
Careless smoking is still a concern
Springfield experienced a record number of fires caused by careless smoking in 2012. The number of careless smoking fires rose nearly 23 percent, from 88 in 2011 to 108 in 2012. Large fires at Chardonnay Apartments and Lakeshore Apartments were started when tenants improperly disposed of cigarettes on wood balconies.
Deaths up; injuries down
Six residents died as a result of fires in 2012, compared to 4 in 2011. Both are higher than Springfield’s average of 3.2 fire deaths per year. However, the number of fire injuries fell in 2012 to 21, from 28 in the previous year.
EMS calls continue to dominate
More than half the calls to which Springfield firefighters respond are emergency medical calls. In 2012, firefighters responded to 7,779 EMS calls, up slightly from 7,390 in 2011. That accounts for more than 55 percent of all incidents. The Springfield Fire Department will continue to focus on injury prevention in an effort to reduce these numbers.
Focus on fire safety education is key
The Springfield Fire Department has increased its focus on fire safety, educating residents about how to prevent and respond to fires.
Families should create a home evacuation plan and practice it regularly. They should practice cooking safety and smoke responsibly. And every home needs working smoke alarms.
Families should replace the batteries at least once a year. Springfield residents in need of a smoke alarm can receive a free one by calling the Springfield Fire Department at (417) 864-1500.