By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
Mt. Vernon Fire Department responded to 43 structure fires and 102 total fires in 2012, resulting in a little more than $1 million in estimated damages.
The department responded to 40 residential fires, resulting in two fatalities, with estimated damages of $771,345. Two fires at stores/offices resulted in $260,000 in estimated damages. The fire on Jan. 13 at Leah’s Crafts on Veterans Memorial Drive resulted in $200,000 in damages; and the Sept. 25 fire at M&M Transmission on South Eighth Street resulted in $60,000 in damages.
The 43 structure fires resulted in $1,034,345 in estimated damages, compared to 31 structure fires in 2011 with $255,125 in estimated damages. Total fire losses in 2012 stood at $1,092,025, compared to $332,975 a year ago.
“Looking at this report, the two things that we’re concerned about are the total number of fires and number of injuries,” said Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Sargent. “We look at the injuries is to try to minimize any injuries to our firefighters and to our citizens.”
The two civilian fire deaths occurred on Jan. 15 when Gary Moore died in his home in the 1200 block of South 23rd Street and Carol Rainey died in a residential fire in the 400 block of Perkins Avenue on July 8, according to information furnished by the MVFD. There were no fire fatalities in the city during 2011.
“Obviously, our goal is to not have any fire fatalities so last year was not a good year for us in that category and we never want our firefighters to be injured either.”
There were four nonfatal firefighter injuries in 2012, compared to five in 2011.
MVFD responded to a total of 2,737 calls this past year, which included 1,996 rescue/emergency medical calls. There were 2,788 total calls in 2011, including 2,148 rescue/emergency medical calls. The number of false alarms also showed a decrease of 143 this past year to 197 in 2011.
Sargent said when examining those numbers the fire department examines what steps can be taken to make it better in 2013.
“We’ll definitely address injuries, responding to and from the scene, and we’re also going to get with our fire prevention division and see what we can do to keep the public more informed. I think we do a great job now, and hopefully we can do an even better job in 2013 to get people to recognize smoke detectors do save lives, try to limit the household problems to minimize the risk of fires in their homes,” he said. “Anytime a fire happens in a community it’s detrimental, not only to the people involved in it, but the community as a whole.”