Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fire Fatality Comparison

I'll have to thank my friend Andy for this information...

In 2009, we tallied 67 media-reported fire fatalities. Our state has a population of 6.2-million people, which gives us a ratio of 10.8 fire fatalites per 1-million population. Once the final numbers are released, which include all fire-related deaths for 2009, that number will increase.

Last year in the "Big Apple", the FDNY reported the fewest civilian fire deaths ever recorded. Ever. That's impressive.

73 deaths for the year, in a city of 8.3-million, resulting in a ratio of 8.8 fire fatalities per 1-million population - lower than the state of Tennessee.

So why is this? Conventional fire service thought would say that, due to the incredible density of the city, coupled with the age of the structures and shear volume of structure fires, NYC's ratio would be much higher than ours. Not so.

Faster response times? At 4 minutes, 2 seconds, the world's largest fire department isn't dragging their feet getting to the scene. FD staffing levels? I was told once by an FDNY Captain that they can have close to 200 personnel on the scene of a fire in less than 10 minutes. Some departments in this state are lucky to have the first engine leave the station in 10 minutes. Even with the rapid response times, recent research has shown that with today's contents, fires are growing so fast and producing so much toxic smoke that even the best response times are too slow to save occupants.

What about faster notification? In a geographic area so dense with people, someone is bound to notice and report a fire sooner than, say, rural Tennessee. For that matter, even faster than in our suburban areas.

More built-in fire suppression? While I don't know the numbers, I'd bet that the structures there are more likely to have sprinklers than apartments in Tennessee... Or hotels in Alabama...

We cannot, anywhere in this state, emulate the fire department response that they have in NYC. What we can do is reproduce the EARLY NOTIFICATION and EARLY SUPPRESSION through the use of technology... and do so at a fraction of the costs.

Unfortunately, many say these technological advances are still "too expensive", and would rather walk on hardwood floors, writing off our fire deaths as "just something that happens". Even worse, many fire service personnel have the mindset that they'd rather "be like the FDNY" in terms of staffing, and forget the early detection/suppression efforts, so they can run more fires...

Thanks, Andy. Now I have something else to occupy my thoughts...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Inaugural Post; Tragic Beginnings

The first post of the FTT Editor's Blog comes in the midst of the deadliest month (in terms of fire fatalities) that we've had in this state in nearly a year and a half. Still a week remains in January of 2010, and we're at 13 media-reported fire deaths. One more, and it will be the highest montly total since October of '06.

Just a few weeks ago, we were celebrating the fact that the 2009 media-reported fire death totals were the lowest in the 5 years that FTT has been tracking such information... How quickly things can change. We didn't have a single month in 2009 where the reported fire death total reached double-digits.

Stories on this AM's local news still focus on the Nashville duplex fire that claimed 5 lives yesterday morning. A 3-year-old remains in critical condition. Reports are that a 7th victim, the 7-year-old who was lowered from a window by her father, is set to be released from the hospital soon. These reports also state that there were "no working smoke alarms" in the structure. Does this mean that there were no smoke alarms present, or that they were installed, just not functional?

There is no doubt that smoke alarms save lives... countless lives. BUT, in order to do so, they MUST be working. Action is required on the part of the occupant to ensure that they are tested and batteries are replaced. How well does that work? In this instance, not so well...

ALSO... News out of Martin, TN, of a mobile home fire that claimed the lives of an adult male and a "male infant". Not much more than that reported... A tragic situation for that family, I'm sure. We'll try to find out more information on this story and share.

2 days, 7 deaths (3 kids, 4 adults), 1 child still critical. What are you doing to make sure this does not happen in your community?