COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)– From a family of five in a mobile home in Fairfield county in January to a teenager earlier this month in Champaign County, there have been 117 fire fatalities in Ohio so far this year.
“117 Ohioans dying as a result of fire is far too many,” said Frank Conway, chief of the state fire marshal’s fire prevention bureau. There were 115 fire fatalities in Ohio in 2014.
Conway joined other state and local officials Tuesday for a press conference promoting the state’s Safe and Sound public awareness campaign for fire prevention.
Asst.Chief David Whiting of the Columbus Fire Department said the cold winter months are always the worst for fire fatalities in Ohio.
“Part of that is because our at-risk community tends to use alternative heating sources, space heaters, kerosene heaters and they don’t follow proper procedures,” Whiting said.
The state has a $50 million fund set aside to help people struggling to pay their heating bills so they can avoid taking fire risks in their homes.
David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency said to be eligible, recipients should be within 175 percent of the federal poverty level. But, he said, “we won’t turn anybody away.”
Goodman said anyone who’s having trouble is urged to call the state agency at 1-800-282-0880.
The campaign is also highlighting the need for working smoke detectors. Whiting recommends replacing any smoke detectors that are 10 years old or older with new maintenance-free smoke detectors.
“The new technology now is 10 year detectors with a sealed battery – so you can’t take the battery out for something else – they’re sealed,” Whiting said. “The battery is built in there and after 10 years, you just discard the whole detector.”
The Columbus Fire Dept offers free smoke detectors to residents. They will even come to your home and install it.
Chief Conway said good fire prevention habits are a benefit for residents and firefighters. “These men and women put their lives on the line and serve their community and if we can do our part as citizens to prevent fires, then it comes out a win-win for everyone,” Conway said.