KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Ninety-five people died last year in fires, with 87 of those in house fires according to the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office’s Tennessee Commissioner’s Annual Fire Prevention Report for 2020. Overall, the trend of unintentional civilian fire deaths has been tracking downward since 2003, which saw 146 deaths.
Recently, the fire marshal’s office has been sharing some holiday-centric fire prevention tips for Tennesseans based on data seen in the 2020 report.
The report also states that education outreach programs for fire prevention have resulted in a reduction in fire deaths over the past several decades; Tennessee has historically ranked among the highest states in the country in its rate of unintentional civilian fire deaths.
There were more than 8,000 reported structure fires in 2020 and more than 4,600 reported vehicle fires. Combined with the more than 8,700 other fires, the total amount of reported fires overall in Tennessee was just over 21,400. There were also 850 reported explosions and more than 1,100 severe weather or natural disasters.
The 21,413 total reported fires caused an estimated $206,850,601 in property loss for Tennesseans, the report states.
Fires and the holidays
The State Fire Marshal says Thanksgiving is the No. 1 day of the year for home fires involving cooking equipment and that candles during the holidays need to be kept at least 12 inches from anything that can burn. The agency also recommends Tennesseans should consider using battery-operated or flameless candles.
As for holiday lights, the fire marshal says to inspect them thoroughly before putting them on the tree; for live Christmas trees, make sure they’re well watered and to keep it at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, space heaters, candles and heat vents.
Working smoke alarms save lives, the fire marshal says. If you need smoke alarms, contact your local fire department to see if they provide free installations as part of the Get Alarmed Tennessee program.
The fire marshal’s office says a door is one of the best pieces of firefighting equipment in a home, the most common structure fire.
Closing doors within a home can help reduce fire growth and spread, limit the damage to your home and save lives. The fire marshal recommends closing your bedroom door when sleeping and if you find yourself in a house fire, close doors behind you when escaping a room or building that is on fire; keep fire doors closed and never wedge, disable or prop open fire doors.