One Lincoln County fire department used Fire Prevention Week this month to educate the community on kitchen fires and the need for keeping residential smoke detectors working.
According to Lincolnton Fire Chief Mitch Burgin, his agency has already responded to more than 1,500 emergencies this year within the city limits. He added that about 40 of those incidents have involved residential/structure fires alone.
“Cooking and electrical issues are the most common causes of fires in the home,” Burgin said.
The Department of Insurance’s Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) additionally pointed out the high volume of kitchen fires that take place across the state each year.
According to an OSFM press release issued earlier this month, the National Fire Protection Agency discovered that in 2012 fires started in more than 8,100 North Carolina homes.
In addition, more than 30 percent of last year’s residential fires stemmed from cooking — the top cause of house fires in the state, the release said.
In order to keep cooking from turning into a fiery tragedy, state fire officials offered citizens several safety reminders this month including keeping children a certain distance away from a hot stove, remaining in the kitchen when cooking, turning the stove off when leaving a cooking area and keeping loose clothing away from hot burners.
For the second year in a row, the city fire department stressed the seriousness of maintaining working detectors by partnering Thursday with Domino’s Pizza, on Center Drive, to offer a free pizza to a lucky resident who had working smoke detectors.
Fire crews awarded a free pizza to a woman on Tait Street, Burgin said.
However, the agency had already decided to install detectors free-of-charge for the resident if he or she failed to have working ones inside the home.
Burgin encouraged any individual who would like to have smoke alarms tested or installed for free to contact the department at (704) 736-8920.
Firefighters have offered to demonstrate fire escape plans for interested residents.
Fire safety week — Oct. 6-12 this year in North Carolina — always falls the week of Oct. 9 in order to remember the great Chicago fire, which according to the OSFM website, killed hundreds of people and damaged thousands of buildings on Oct. 9, 1871.
The fire burned for more than a day.
Four decades later, fire departments across the country implemented an annual fire safety day, the site said. It was not until 1922 that agencies opted instead to dedicate an entire week to the topic each October.