A new program in Springfield seeks to lower the number of house fires in high risk areas. According to the city’s fire department, the number of deaths from fire in Springfield is among the highest in the United States.
“We know that one fire death is too many, five is way too many especially for a community our size we need to do a better job reducing those numbers,” said Cara Erwin, spokesperson for the Springfield Fire Department.
To do that, SFD’s Community Risk Reduction program plans to launch Project RED Zone. With a focus on West Central Springfield, in Zone 1, four fire crews of about 12 individuals will go door to door distributing and testing smoke alarms and providing batteries for free.
“This is really a city wide effort; we have this goal over the next year to knock on every single door in Zone 1 so we’ve never done one of this caliber before,” Erwin said.
The project is part of the city's Zone Blitz initiative.
RED; which stands for reduce, eliminate and deliver, will begin April 8 from 1 pm. – 5 p.m. and will continue every Saturday until the project is complete. Officials expect the project to take one year.
Fire deaths have been a consistent issue in Springfield. According to the department’s 2016 year-end report, fire-related fatalities were up 25 percent from 2015 with accidental fires being the most common cause.
The Hartford Home Fire Index ranked the city 59 out of 100 in the nation for highest risk of house fire.
“We are beginning this new campaign with the expansion of our free smoke alarm program because we have identified a lack of adequate warning in a fire as one of the biggest problems we face as a community,” Interim Fire Chief David Pennington said in a news release.
SFD said 42 percent of all homes where fire occurred in 2016 did not have working smoke alarms.
The project is funded through a $15,000 FEMA Fire Prevention and Safety Grant and the department’s public education fund.