Monday, October 12, 2009

Deaths focus attention on fire safety

By Rex Hall Jr. Kalamazoo Gazette
October 09, 2009, 11:29PMKALAMAZOO — As National Fire Prevention Week wraps up today, local disaster-relief officials are reminding residents to have a home escape plan and practice it in case of a fire.“You never know,” said Vicki Eichstaedt, spokeswoman for the Greater Kalamazoo Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. “It’s just so important.”Eichstaedt’s plea came this week as Red Cross officials were assisting two related families in Pullman who were displaced early Thursday by a house fire that killed 2-year-old Scott Ray Bogseth. Nine other people in the one-story house at 1113 58th St. escaped.Scott, who would have turned 3 today, was the fifth person in a week to die in a house fire reported in southwestern Michigan. A fire that investigators said was sparked by a wood stove that had been installed improperly killed David and Cindy Hoaglin and their 15-year-old daughter, Chelsea, on Oct. 1. On Sunday, 48-year-old Michael Guy was killed in a fire at his residence in Allegan County’s Monterey Township.The fire Thursday, which was reported at 12:37 a.m., was most likely caused by “careless candle use,” said Sgt. Scott LeRoy of the Michigan State Police.LeRoy said the fire started in the living room of the 58th Street residence, which had no electricity because of a power outage caused by high winds on Tuesday, and that the room was engulfed in flames by the time it was discovered. Family members who escaped got out of the house through the windows of three bedrooms where they had been sleeping, and Scott had been sleeping in one of the bedrooms with his father, mother and a sibling when the fire started, the sergeant said.“I think what we have to realize is that a fire can happen to us, so obviously we need to be prepared,” State Fire Marshal Ron Farr said Friday. “The two big things are early warning and an escape plan — knowing what to do and practicing it.”To increase home safety in case of a fire, Farr recommends that residents:v Install smoke detectors in each bedroom, in the hallway outside of bedrooms and on each level of a house.v Replace any smoke detector that is 10 years or older.v Have a home escape plan and practice it with family members.v Ensure that escape routes, such as windows and doors are accessible at all times.v Install a mix of ionization smoke detectors and photoelectric smoke detectors in a home. Farr said ionization smoke detectors respond quicker to a fire’s flame, while photoelectric detectors respond more quickly to smoldering fires that produce heavy smoke.According to the National Fire Protection Association, only one in four people have developed and practiced a home-escape plan in case of a fire. The organization said escape plans should be practiced twice a year, and important facets of an escape plan are knowing at least two ways out of every room and having a designated meeting place for family members to go to once they’ve exited the home.