State News

Fire Marshal’s report highlights fire damage and safety efforts

Vermont’s 232 fire departments responded to an average of 3,000 emergency calls per month in 2016, according to an annual report released by the Office of the State Fire Marshal. The report contains information from over 45,000 recorded emergency incidents.
Those calls were not only for working fires (3,200 reported for the year), but emergency medical services, conditions that could have led to a fire without intervention, false alarms, and other conditions. Twelve Vermonters lost their lives in fires and three more died due to carbon monoxide exposure.
The report also provides a summary of fire loss, fire causes, firefighter training programs (670 students taught), hazardous material response activities (128 responses), urban search and rescue efforts, and much more. The leading cause of fires was found to be failure to clean creosote from woodstove and wood furnace chimneys.
Monetary losses from fires are difficult to estimate because in most cases departments aren’t required to determine detailed losses. However, the report shows $20 million in damage from fires that required detailed state investigation in 2016, and insurance companies reported an estimated $40 million in damage from claims for 2015 – the latest yearly report.
“As this report shows, state and local firefighters work tirelessly to reduce the number of deaths, injuries and property losses in Vermont,” Commissioner of Public Safety Thomas D. Anderson said. “All Vermonters are safer because of the dedication, hard work and personal sacrifice of the Vermont firefighter community.”
The report also highlights educational efforts by fire companies. The Vermont Division of Fire Safety led or took part in 137 public educational programs and events in 2016. These included efforts geared toward K-12 schoolchildren, senior citizens, workplace safety, and several others.
The Division of Fire Safety continues to ask all Vermonters to practice fire safety through a few simple activities, including installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in all living areas. Despite the best efforts of state and local responders, fire departments still report responding to homes without these and other basic lifesaving tools.
“Together, we can help reduce the number of deaths, injuries and property losses in Vermont,” the report concludes.

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