66 fire deaths: Louisiana Fire Marshal shares lifesaving tips

ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - It's been a nightmarish year for fires in Louisiana. So far, there have been 66 fire fatalities across the state since January 1.

"We only had 64 last year," said Louisiana State Marshal Chief Butch Browning.

Chief Browning recently sent out a press release stating that from October 1 to 15, seven fire deaths occurred statewide.

"Outside of some intentionally set fires and some crimes that we see, the vast majority of these deaths are easily preventable," Chief Browning said.

But, just two days after the fire marshal's count, a fire destroyed everything at a Triplex off of Bolton Avenue in Alexandria. No one was hurt, but local officials said it could have been so much worse.

"The fire in the triplex on 16th Street, there were no working smoke alarms in that residence," said Alexandria Fire Prevention Officer Reggie Herbert.

That absence of a working smoke alarm was a common theme at a majority of the fires, but Herbert said its a mistake they see often.

"People take them down because they are chirping and they become a nuisance," Herbert said. "But, all it is is just a low battery."

He said alarms should be on every level and outside of every bedroom. Fortunately, there is a free service to help with that.

"Operation Save A Life, if you would call our office we will set up a time and date that best suit the resident," Herbert said. "We supply and install smoke alarms free of charge."

The alarms are good for 10 years. Each device has a manufacture date inside.

But as winter nears, firefighters want the public to be extra cautious.

"In the colder months we see a lot of space heater accidents," said Alexandria firefighter Neilson Eznack. "The main thing I used to see was the people that didn't clean their dryer vents."

However, accidents happen, so Chief Browning wants every family member to know the escape plan.

"Wake your children up in the middle of the night to the sound of that smoke alarm," Chief Browning said. "If you are not practicing this with your children and educating your children you are missing the opportunity that I promise you if they are ever put in that situation they may not escape properly."

He hopes the public takes these prevention tips seriously, so the death toll will stop rising.

"I am very concerned," Chief Browning said. "If this trend continues we will have one of the worst fire death seasons in the state of Louisiana over the last 10 or 20 years."

For more information on fire prevention tips and the 'Operation Save a Life' smoke alarm program visit the attached link.



 
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