Philly commissioner pushes for fire prevention and safety

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Philly commissioner pushes for fire prevention and safety. Gray Hall reports during Action News at 4 p.m. on March 16, 2018. (WPVI)

An increased number of deadly fires in the city has Philadelphia officials sounding the alarm. They want the public to step up now to help prevent tragedies in the future.

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said, "Already we had almost half as many fire deaths as we had for the entire year last calendar year so that is a real problem for us, that is scary."

Fire Commissioner Thiel says one fire death is too many.

He says last year there were 21 confirmed fire deaths.

Already this year, there are three confirmed fatalities and seven are pending with the Medical Examiners officer.

The Commissioner is reacting before another fire and reminding the public about fire safety and important steps they can take to protect themselves and their homes.

"The causes of fires are typically cooking, heating, discarding smoking materials, electrical, so don't overload the outlets. Make sure you are using cords that are not frayed or damaged and make sure you have a smoke alarm, and make sure that smoke alarm works," Commissioner Thiel said.

Year round, the fire department issues and installs free smoke detectors.

The fire department received a $1million grant from FEMA last year to install 30,000 smoke alarms. Our cameras were rolling as firefighters in West Philadelphia went door to door along Race Street, earlier this year to talk about fire safety and make some installations. Tragically, days earlier someone died in a house fire in this area.

Commissioner Thiel reminds the public that fire safety is a community effort. It's why we here at Action News, conduct the Operation 6abc: Save a Life Campaign. Every year, the station teams up with fire departments and kiddie smoke alarms to hand out thousands of smoke detectors.

"Even if you look around and say I got all the smoke alarms I need, go ask your neighbors, go down the street and remind people. We need everybody's help," said Commissioner Thiel.

Fires are not only a danger to the public but firefighters also put their lives on the line.

In January, a fire in North Philadelphia killed one person and claimed the life of 42-year-old Lieutenant Matthew LeTourneau. He died a hero but fire officials are hoping by constantly pushing the message of safety, fires like these won't happen.

Commission Thiel adds, "Without question so far, this year the toughest day for us was January 6. We lost both a civilian and Matt LeTourneau, who was going back in because we had reports of other people trapped, so for us, it's a critical issue but every loss hurts and we feel everyone."

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