At least 39 people were killed in fires last year in Iowa. The final number will likely increase as a few autopsy results still need confirmed, but Assistant State Fire Marshal Jeffrey Quigle says the figure is similar to the number of annual fire fatalities over the last decade.

“Obviously, we’d like to see that number at zero, of course. But, it has been running fairly consistent,” Quigle said. There were 33 fire fatalities in Iowa in 2010 and 46 in 2009. Quigle said his agency hopes to see a downturn in fire deaths soon after the implementation of a smoke detector campaign early last year.

“We just delivered another 500 smoke detectors over to eastern Iowa and we have another 500 we’re going to be delivering to the southern and southwestern areas of the state,” Quigle said. The units are purchased with donations and delivered to homes identified as not having a working smoke detector.

Seven of the people killed in structure fires in Iowa last year were children under the age 14. In many of those cases, the homes did not have a smoke detector. Quigle said the devices are being installed in more Iowa homes with kids, thanks to the new campaign.

He said several schools are having students fill out surveys to determine if their homes have smoke detectors. Those surveys are returned to the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s office and units are then placed in the needed homes.