Pratt Fire Chief David Kramer said the January 25, 2018 house fire at 211 Austin has been ruled accidental and non-suspicious. An increased awareness of working smoke detectors has spurred interest in the fire department's Alarms for Angels program.
The Kansas State Fire Marshall's office has ruled the January 25 house fire at 211 Austin in Pratt that resulted in the deaths of five individuals an accidental, non-suspicious fire. Pratt Fire Chief David Kramer said he had not yet seen the official report of the incident and did not expect that to be forthcoming for another month, due to lab-testing that was on-going. He was able to share some information that was already complete however.
"We had a dog in there and there were absolutely no hits on anything that could have been called an accelerant to the fire," Kramer said. "An area where the fire started has been isolated, but until the report comes from the state, we are reluctant to comment on that further."
Sadly, Kramer said his department was unable to find any indication or evidence of working fire alarms in the home that burned. Demolition has taken place at the home and family have indicated they do not intend to rebuild at the site.
"People think that this could never happen to them," Kramer said. "But statistics show that 80 percent of all fire deaths happen where there is no working smoke detectors."
With fire safety now in the spotlight, Pratt firefighters, working in conjunction with the State Fire Marshall's office and under direction of Fire Chief David Kramer, are shining light on their "Alarms for Angel's" campaign to check and install working fire alarms in homes.
"We started this program in 2013 after a deadly fire," said Kramer. "It has been on-going ever since, but in light of the devastating fire we had a few weeks ago, we just want everyone to know, we have them and will put them in for free. We will not turn anyone away who needs a fire alarm."
Since 2013 the Pratt fire department has installed more than 200 fire alarms in area homes. Their initial project was funded by donations from local businesses and individuals.
"The state sent us a good inventory of fire alarms last week," Kramer said. "We have some funds still available for this project, mostly money that comes from the rental of our fire house meeting rooms, but we won't turn away those who want to donate again."
According to state guidelines, every landowner is responsible to provide a working smoke detector in every home. Renters are then responsible to maintain the fire alarms if they do not own the property. For this reason, the state does not support renters initiating participation in the project, because that is, by law, the home-owners responsibility.
Other guidelines Pratt firefighters follow with the "Alarms for Angels" program include department installation of all smoke detectors.
"We come out and talk to people about fire safety, go over a check list with them about having an escape plan, the importance of fire drills, when to change batteries and how to test smoke detectors," Kramer said. "In light of recent events here, many people are thinking about this and it is definitely a time for awareness and education."
Kramer said the fire alarms now being installed by his crew have a 10-year battery, a cell that cannot be removed for any reason or other use. He asked people to check their smoke detectors and to be aware that the usual life of a fire alarm was 7 years. Those interested in Alarms for Angels may call Pratt Fire at 629-672-4600.