EUREKA, Mo. – Just five months into 2018 and Missouri is near the top of a nationwide list that firefighters are battling and trying to change.
“We’ve become the third highest per capita in fire deaths this year,” says Scott Barthelmass, public information officer for the Eureka Fire Protection District. “In many of those deaths are in residences that don’t have smoke detectors.”
According to the US Fire Administration, an entity of the Department of Homeland Security, of Missouri’s 44 fatalities for 2018, only one residence had a working smoke detector. As of Wednesday morning, there were 1,138 fire deaths nationwide.
On Saturday, firefighters in Eureka and the City of St. Louis are teaming up with the Red Cross as part of their Sound the Alarm campaign, going door-to-door and installing free smoke detectors for anyone in need.
“Many of the deaths this year have been young children or senior citizens,” says Barthelmass. “The average house fire, you have about three to five minutes to get out of, compared to 20 years ago when you had 17 minutes to get out. So early alerting which a smoke detector provides helps you get out quicker.”
Firefighters are reminding everyone to keep their bedroom door closed at night, have an escape plan for you and your family, make sure your smoke detectors are changed every seven years and the batteries often.
“We often tell people to check their smoke detectors at daylight saving time in the spring and fall,” says Barthelmass. “Probably be better to check it all the time. Make it part of your routine. Check it once a month. Check your batteries and smoke detectors to make sure they’re in good working order.”