$525,000 campaign aims to curb fire deaths in Michigan
Michigan residents can expect to hear more about fire safety and the need to install smoke alarms in their homes, an effort made easier with a grant of more than $500,000, state fire officials said.
State officials are stepping up efforts through MI Prevention, an initiative that aims to lower the number of fire fatalities, injuries and property loss across the state, which national officials have ranked among the top 10 for deaths in blazes from 2011-15.
As part of the campaign, officials will install 21,384 smoke alarms and 6,455 carbon monoxide detectors by Aug. 1 as well as educate more than 30,000 firefighters on ways to boost fire prevention efforts. Public service announcements, billboards and other awareness-raising efforts also are planned, State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer told The Detroit News.
“We’re building a process to get the message out,” he said.
The initiative, which includes partnerships with fire departments, law enforcement personnel and school officials, as well as others, centers around a community risk reduction program the National Fire Protection Association introduced in Michigan in 2017.
State officials report that National Fire Incident Reporting System data shows 139 state residents died in home fires last year, with a reported $260 million in property damage. Since Jan. 1, 38 people have died in residential fires in Michigan.
“Fire-related fatalities are largely preventable by educating consumers on the life-saving practice of having working smoke alarms and adopting smart fire safety behaviors,” said Orlene Hawks, director of the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. “A fire can affect anyone at any time. The lives of all Michiganders depend on education and awareness.”
The MI Prevention initiative is funded by a one-year, $525,000 Fire Prevention and Safety grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and a 5% state match, LARA officials said.
To have alarms lasting up to 10 years installed in their home, residents can request free visits from fire and emergency personnel volunteering through MI Prevention volunteers, the department said.
The group members are targeting areas the state has identified as high-risk for fire fatalities, including including Flint, the Traverse City area, Lake County in northern Michigan, Detroit, Saginaw and southern Macomb County.
Installation “blitzes” are planned in some of those areas in the next two months, Sehlmeyer said.
“We’re focusing on the two groups that are affected most by fire fatalities: adults over age 40 and children under age nine,” Sehlmeyer said. “Nearly 80 percent of Michigan’s population are in these high-risk groups and it’s where we’ve seen the greatest number of fire deaths.”
For information: www.michigan.gov/miprevention.