Fire Prevention Week is wrapping up, but Sioux Falls Fire Rescue works around the clock to keep us safe. Not only do they fight fires, but they are trying to prevent them from ever starting and it seems to be working.
Fire Marshall Dean Lanier says Sioux Falls Fire Rescue responds to an average of about 150 fires each year.
Lanier said, "Often, even in the fires that we do have, the residents are already outside, even in an apartment building."
Lanier says the longest the city has gone in the last 20 years without a fatality is two years. Right now, Sioux Falls is breaking that record. The city has gone 33 months without one.
"There's a lot of things that have to go right for a period of time of that length without a fire fatality," said Lanier.
A lot of it has to do with prevention and preparedness. Sioux Falls Fire Rescue has installed thousands of smoke detectors in homes and talks to residents about having a plan. They also visit schools and around 6,000 businesses each year.
Lanier said, "Your home is the largest investment that you'll ever make, and keeping it safe and not having that type of damage is a huge benefit to the community."
Sioux Falls Fire Rescue is also getting to fires fast. Ninety-percent of the time, they make it to them in 5 minutes, 12 seconds. For those reasons, Lanier says Sioux Falls has averaged around just $4 million in fire damage each year for the last five years.
"In a similar sized city in this upper midwest region of the United States, we should really be experiencing like $8 to $10 million in loss annually," Lanier said.
That number could be even lower.
"The first smoke alarm ordinances started in the early 70's. I still, to this day, find smoke alarms installed in people's homes with dates of 1973 on them," Lanier said.
Smoke detectors have a 10 year shelf life. If you need help either installing your smoke alarm or changing the batteries, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue does make service calls free of charge.