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 Hitting Close to Home                         structure fires. These fires caused 13,600   tial fires by 77% and the average loss per
     By now, thanks to the efforts that        civilian injuries, 2,865 civilian deaths,    residential fire by 63%.”
 National Fire Protection Association          $7.4 billion in direct damage…In 2007,            Numerous prior reports and statis-
 (NFPA) puts in developing great statisti-     home structure fires caused 84% of the       tics also pointed out that our fire problem
 cal reports year after year, we in the fire   civilian fire deaths and 77% of the civil-   is mainly in homes. We can and must be
 service know that most fires and fire-        ian fire injuries. Homes include one- and    more proactive, and we must put a much
 related fatalities occur in homes. Take       two-family dwellings, apartments, town-      higher priority on fire prevention, if we
 a look at the following 2007 statistics       houses, rowhouses and manufactured           indeed are serious about reducing fire fa-
 from the NFPA: “In 2007, U.S. fire de-        homes…Sprinklers decrease the fire           talities and injuries.
 partments responded to 399,000 home           death rate per 1,000 reported residen-            The newest NFPA report “Character-
                                                                                            istics of Home Fire Victims” gives us an
                                                                                            even better look and allows us to fix our
                                                                                            scopes on the target to have a much better
                                                                                            shot at addressing the fire problem in our
                                                                                            country; see
                                                                                            files//PDF/OS.HomeVictims.pdf. Here is
                                                                                            the good news first. Based on this report,
                                                                                            despite all of the fatalities, we are doing a
                                                                                            much better job of protecting our public
                                                                                            than before. The report states that “over-
                                                                                            all, civilian fire deaths in home structure
                                                                                            fires were down 47% in 2007, compared
                                                                                            to 1980. The civilian fire death rate in
                                                                                            home structure fires was down 60% in
                                                                                            2007, compared to 1980.” The not-so-
                                                                                            thrilling news is that the most vulnerable
                                                                                            high-risk population groups are the very
                                                                                            young, the very old and the economically
                                                                                            deprived. The report indicates:
                                                                                            • Children under the age of 5 are almost
                                                                                              1.5 times as likely to die in a home fire
                                                                                              as the general public
                                                                                            • Adults over the age of 65 are almost 1.8
                                                                                              times as likely to die in a home fire as
                                                                                              the general public
                                                                                            • Adults over th
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