Fire Safety

The Houston Fire Department has been responding to a number of apartment fires that they say wouldn't happen if renters would follow some basic safety tips. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports

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The Houston Fire Department, the Houston Police Department and the Houston Apartment Association are joining forces to reduce apartment fires. HFD Assistant Chief Rick Flanagan says they are trying to be pro-active by getting safety information to apartment managers and renters.

"We've been in the business of saving lives for many years. In the life safety business where we operate, business has been brisk, has been very good the last several months, the last several years, especially for apartment fires. We want to bring that to an end."

Houston City Councilman Adrian Garcia says seeing an apartment fire reported in the news always brings the same questions to his mind.

"How many families have been displaced, how much personal property has been lost and how much of it will probably never be recuperated by those families."

The Fire Department reports that between 2000 and 2005, 36 people died in apartment fires. In the past two years, the department has responded to more than 1,600 apartment fires causing about 25 million dollars in structural damage. Garcia says the safety information can potentially reach a half million apartment units. HPD Assistant Chief Brian Lumpkin says reducing apartment fires will help everyone.

"Anything apartment managers can do to help prevent any 911 call, we all benefit as first responders. I really see this as a great partnership because the fire department, the police department and the apartment managers themselves, they are first responders."

Fire Department officials estimate it costs about 12-hundred dollars per unit to respond to calls. The CD and other information being provided to apartments includes more than a dozen safety tips that Houston Apartment Association President Jerry Winograd says the information can be printed out as flyers or included in newsletters. He says it's things people need to be reminded of.

"One of the major ones would be how to deal with grease fires. How to properly cook and not leave any grease on the stove. Because I think we see more grease fires in Houston then anything."

The safety tips can be found online also. The link can be found at KUHF dot org. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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