More than half the structural fires in Beaufort during the past 12 months started in kitchens, a rate higher than the national average and enough of a concern that the Beaufort Fire Department is launching a "war on kitchen fires."
The department's plans coincide with Fire Prevention Week, which began Sunday.
In the past 12 months, the department has responded to 26 fires in buildings, according to a news release. Of those, 14 originated in the kitchen, seven were caused by electrical shorts and two were caused by improperly discarded smoking materials, according to fire department records.
"Over 53 percent of all of our fires originate in the kitchen," Beaufort Fire Chief Sammy Negron said. "The national average for kitchen fires is 44 percent. Fires that start in a kitchen have been the No. 1 reported cause of house fires since 1990.
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"We want to help make kitchens and homes safer."
October is Fire Safety Month, and this week is Fire Prevention Week.
"Our department is scheduled to conduct 16 fire prevention presentations this month," Capt. John Robinson, training and education officer for the department, said in a news release.
"Every presentation we do has an element of kitchen safety," Robinson said. "From kindergarteners to college students, every person we speak to about fire safety will hear us talk about preventing fires in the kitchen."
"We have reached more than 1,300 adults and 4,600 children since January of this year, but that's not enough because the fires keep starting, homes keep burning and people's lives are at risk," he added.
To prevent home fires, the department recommends:
Those interested in speaking to a fire-prevention specialist should contact the Beaufort Fire Department at 843-525-7055 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.