Mayor, Fire Director urge fire safety after recent deaths

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - In less than two months, there have been ten deadly fires in Memphis, up nearly 30 percent over this time last year. The numbers are so shocking that Friday, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Fire Department Director Alvin Benson sounded an alarm.

"It's not to late if we're able to save one life," Wharton said Friday. "Let's just see what we can do."

The disturbing trend hit home for Wharton when in the same week, Marshall and Earline Maple died inside their burning home, and Alice Saulsberry died on her front porch as fire consumed her home.  
"In 10 fire deaths we've had since January first, 60 percent of those cases we've identified did not have working smoke detectors," Benson said.

And more often than not, the victims were trying to stay warm.

"In six of those cases we've definitely concluded that they are heating related," Benson said.

"Obviously you see folks resorting to alternate methods of heating their homes, and we're not out of the cold season yet," Wharton added.

Benson noted that the fire department will supply and install a smoke detector in your home for free.  Additionally, fire department representatives will come to your home to survey it for fire hazards.>

Benson said a conversation about fire prevention should start where most fires start.
"It starts at home," he said.

If you need a smoke detector or you want your home surveyed for fire dangers call the fire station nearest you, or call the fire department's non-emergency number which is 901-458-8281.

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