There have been 38 fire-related fatalities in Iowa this year. Jessica Lown, spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, says everyone is hoping that number will hold steady over the final three months of 2009.
“Especially considering in 2007 and 2006, we had 30 and 33 (fatalities) respectively for those entire years, ” Lown said. “So, already, we’re pretty high as far as we’re concerned and we want to put a stop to that real fast.” Nine of the 38 victims this year have been under the age of 18. In at least one case, the fire was started by a child playing with matches.
Lown says parents and guardians should be teaching their children about fire safety and how to escape fires if they do occur. “But, also about that all important lesson that fire is dangerous and fire implements should be seen as tools, not toys,” Lown said. Investigators say most fire fatalities could be avoided if the homes had working smoke detectors.
“The vast majority of homes in Iowa have smoke detectors in them, but they aren’t working,” Lown said. “They’re old, outdated (smoke detectors) or they don’t have batteries in them.” This week is designated as National Fire Prevention Week.