In Spartanburg County as of mid-September in 2017, fires have taken the lives of six persons. The county had only one fire death in 2016, and none in 2015; in 2014, 13 fire-related deaths occurred. The county’s Fire Marshal, Bill Hall, is not certain why the deaths have spiked: “It’s hard to look at trends, because as we look at causes, I don’t see that many trends.”
Spartanburg County’s six deaths so far in 2017 are the second-highest statewide, with Lexington County having eight fire-related deaths so far. Of the six deaths, two were from smoking, one was caused by an exploding stove, one was electrical, one was set accidentally, and one had undetermined causes.
Fires More Severe; Fighting Them More Difficult
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) held a workshop to explore the reasons for fires. A number of presenters zeroed in on the following reasons for the increasing severity of home fires that are also more difficult to fight:
- Recently-built homes have changed, with more open spaces, larger concealed spaces, different building materials, and the addition of new technologies such as solar panels. Homes are also bigger. All of these aspects make it harder to fight fires.
- Because of these factors, firefighters may not always know the best way to fight a fire effectively. The reason is that some firefighters may lack experience, proper training, or access to technologically-advanced equipment.
- Modern furniture is made of materials that can be more flammable, but smoldering instead of burning outright, emitting deadly gases. Upholstered furniture contributes to the spreading of fires, even when the fire did not start in the furniture.
- Other modern building materials can contribute to the severity of a fire.
Fire Safe South Carolina
Spartanburg County had a new state program, Fire Safe South Carolina, visit the county during September, 2017. The program offers help in identifying fire trends and lowering fire fatalities by emphasizing the following issues:
- Identifying problem areas for fires
- Using certain methods to discover how fires are starting
- Figuring out how fire departments can more effectively work together
- Reducing community risk overall.
The office of the state fire marshal now employs eight staffers to help local departments investigate fires and discover trends. The office is also working on educating the public by developing a statewide fire safety program. It’s been observed that, while teaching children about the dangers of fire has been fairly successful, fire departments still need to reach out to the elderly with fire education. Fire Safe South Carolina’s section chief, Joshua Fullbright, noted, “The goal is to save our community’s lives. The goal is to make sure [firefighters] go home every day.”
Smoke Detectors Still Your Best Bet
Did you know that smoke detectors have a working life of only about 10 years? If your smoke detectors are that old or older, plan to replace them soon. Having working smoke detectors in each bedroom and on each floor is still the best way to give you the time you need to escape a fire. Spartanburg County Fire Marshal Hall commented, “The biggest trends we do see are people not having working smoke detectors, and I emphasize ‘working,’ because sometimes they are there but they’re inoperable.”
Hearing-impaired persons need special smoke detectors. If you know someone who is hearing-impaired, visual alarms and “bed-shakers” can help rouse them in case of fire. Some hearing-impaired South Carolina residents may be eligible for a free “bed-shaker.”
When life goes wrong, we fight for what’s right.
Have you suffered from a home fire that you believe was caused by the negligence of another? The South Carolina personal injury lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm have represented injured South Carolinians in personal injury suits since 1959. With our firm on the case, you can rest assured that you’ll get the personalized attention you deserve. South Carolina law entitles you to hold the negligent party legally responsible for your medical expenses as well as any lost wages and other financial losses. You may also seek compensation for pain and suffering or loss of comfort, care and companionship of a loved one. The deadline for filing a claim is already running, so contact the Louthian Law Firm for help by calling us at 1-803-454-1200. If you prefer, you can fill out our online contact form.