The Idaho Falls Fire Department is urging the public to be very vigilant during Independence Day festivities. Temperatures are soaring, the ground is dry, and house fires and traumatic injuries are on an upward trend.
“I've seen more house fires in Idaho Falls over the last year than I have in any previous year in my career as a firefighter,” states IFFD Fire Chief Duane Nelson. “All of the fires are unrelated and started because of different reasons, making it challenging to pinpoint why we are experiencing an upward trend. We are also seeing a rise in traumatic injuries as people get out and recreate. Please take extra precautions around your home and while outdoors. We do not want to see any more lives lost,” adds Nelson.
In July of 2020, IFFD responded to several firework-related calls as well as three house fires in one day. While only one of the house fires was caused by spent fireworks that reignited, the fire sent four to the hospital and caused significant damage to the home.
The July 2019 fire at Lincoln Alternative High School was caused by illegal aerial fireworks that ignited the roof of the school’s gymnasium.
The 2016 Henry’s Creek Fire was the largest brush fire recorded in Bonneville County history and was caused by fireworks and burned approximately 50,000 acres. More than 260 personnel, several engines, heavy equipment and aircraft were used to suppress the fire which took two weeks to contain and cost an estimated $4.4 million.
Over the last two weeks, IFFD has responded to three more house fires, one of which was a fatality. While the causes are still under investigation, the incidents serve as a reminder to the community to get back to the basics when it comes to fire safety and prevention.
“Smoke alarms did go off and alerted occupants of the fire in some of the recent house fires, giving them time to get out and call for help,” explains IFFD Public Information Officer, Kerry Hammon.
Install and test your smoke alarms on a regular basis. Plan, communicate, and practice fire escape plans with all family members. Repetition causes muscle memory, allowing the action to be performed with little to no conscious effort in an emergency situation. If a fire does occur, get out, stay out, and call 911 immediately.
Click HERE for firework safety tips and more fire prevention information.
Safe and sane fireworks may only be purchased within City of Idaho Falls limits between June 23 and July 5. Prior to purchasing fireworks, learn more about illegal or banned fireworks inside city limits by reviewing the city code.
The Fire Marshal has the authority to approve or disapprove of aerial firework display permits for various community events involving pyrotechnics.
Please be courteous of others. Residents may be cited for disturbing the peace if they are found to be causing a disturbance in neighborhoods because of fireworks.
Photo Credit: Fireworks Display, Sherri Barnes
Media Contact: Kerry Hammon, Public Information Officer, (208) 612-8122, [email protected].