Durham structure fires up 8% in 2013

Jan. 13, 2014 @ 05:03 PM

The number of structure fires in the city rose 8.3 percent in 2013 over the previous year, but the total number of blazes that city firefighters responded to fell 4.9 percent.
Overall, the number of fires – including non-residential blazes such as vehicle and woods fires, for example – dropped from 926 to 883, according to Durham Fire Department figures.
But structure fires, which include homes and businesses, increased from 187 to 204.
The total dollar loss from all fires fell 2.5 percent – from $10,774,736 to $10,511,725.
For non-residential fires, the dollar loss was down sharply – by $413,609, or 11.9 percent.
“Structure fires primarily involve fires which cause damage to the building and its contents, and they account for the overwhelming majority of dollar loss,” Deputy Chief Chris Iannuzzi of the Durham Fire Department said.
Iannuzzi said the department hasn’t completed an analysis to determine what drove down the overall fire and loss numbers, but said “we are pleased that they are trending downward.”

Fire Chief Dan Curia said the department will “make data-driven decisions a reality” this year by pinpointing neighborhoods where fire and heart attacks are happening and focus efforts to prevent them through community education.  

One important way to prevent fires is by using smoke detectors on every level of a home, Iannuzzi said.

Some detectors come with a 10-year lithium battery, which lasts as long as the detector. That’s more convenient than having to replace regular batteries every six months or a year, he said.
Installing a carbon monoxide detector is also important for anyone who has a gas appliance or fireplace, he said. Some units combine a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector.
Iannuzzi said it’s especially dangerous for people to use gas grills indoors or to run a generator under the house, which can let deadly carbon monoxide seep inside.
The Fire Department offers free smoke detectors to homeowners who can’t afford one. For more information, call 919-560-4242.