Statewide fire fatalities may be up 35 percent, with 42 fatalities so far this year, but Bremerton and Kitsap County stats are still down.
“It’s been a few years since we had a fatality, thank goodness,” Bremerton Fire Marshal Mike Six said, adding that the city’s last fire fatality was in 2005.
Kitsap County’s last fatality occurred April 2008 in Port Orchard, according to Kitsap County Deputy Fire Marshal Tina Turner, but things could start heating up soon.
“Now that we’re getting into the cold season, we will start getting more chimney fires and things,” she said.
Six said the city’s last two fatalities were during the cold season.
“Between now and about February, probably with November and December peaking, we’ll have the most calls for structure fires,” he said. “I don’t know what the connect the dots is, but people sort of tend to be less careful.”
Turner advises people to have their chimneys and wood stoves thoroughly cleaned every winter.
“Right now, at this time period because we’re starting to get into the cold season, make sure you’re properly disposing of your fireplace and wood stove ashes too,” she said.
Both Turner and Six said people need to change their smoke detector batteries and ensure they’re properly working. Smoke detectors should be in and just outside all sleeping rooms.
Escape plans should be created and practiced and Six said residential sprinkler systems aren’t a bad idea either.
“They’re not required, but they’re a good alternative,” he said.
Six said Bremerton is probably one of the cheapest places in the state to have sprinkler systems installed because the water department does not charge to have meters upgraded for sprinkler systems.
“Usually you have to upgrade your meter from a 3/4-inch to 1 inch, but they allow that for free, which is huge,” Six said. “Upgrades alone cost about $10,000 in the city of Tacoma.”
Cooking fires are a big cause of residential fires, according to Six. He recommends people carry a potholder with them while cooking to ensure they do not forget they have food in the oven or on the stove. Keep lids handy to squelch fires in pots and pans and do not put water on oil fires.
Bremerton regularly does fire inspections for businesses and those inspections seem to impact the department’s number of house fire calls.
“It seems like the more annual fire inspections we do, our residential fire numbers go down,” Six said. “The people that work around here probably live around here and take those tidbits home.”