Wisconsin sees alarming number of residential fire deaths

Thirty-three people have died in residential fires in Wisconsin so far this year.
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 4:53 PM CDT
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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - An alarming number of people died in residential fires across the state this year. That’s according to the Wisconsin Fire Inspectors Association.

Thirty-three people have died in residential fires, in Wisconsin, so far this year, including a massive fire in Sturgeon Bay and a small house fire in Gillett. It’s a number that’s sounding an alarm for those who work in the fire service.

“Last year, the entire 12 months, we had 40 total. We’re almost at last year’s mark and we’re not even halfway through the year. That’s a really big deal,” says Adam Dorn, assistant fire chief with Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue.

And, in all of those fires, according to Dorn, there were no working smoke detectors.

In all new construction of multi-family dwellings, like apartment buildings, residential sprinkler systems are now required by law.

The Wisconsin Fire Inspectors Association is now working on educating people on the importance of smoke detectors on every level of your home and in every sleeping area as well. Dorn says, “Wherever you are, whether that’s in your own home -- whether that’s somebody else’s home you’re staying with somebody for the night -- it may sound kind of silly go check and make sure their smoke detectors are working.”

Fire officials are not only stressing the importance of having working smoke detectors, but they’re also asking people to consider the impact a residential sprinkler system could have in the event of a fire, too. “Sprinklers are our best friend, and when I say our best friends I don’t just mean the fire service. They actually do so much for everybody,” adds Dorn.

Not only do sprinklers help to slow or stop the spread of fire, but they make the structure safer for those responding -- while also giving those people inside time to get out. “Most fires are either contained or extinguished by one to two sprinkler heads,” Dorn says.

In all new construction of multi-family dwellings, like apartment buildings, residential sprinkler systems are now required by law. Asst. Chief Dorn says, because of their effectiveness, people building new homes should consider including a sprinkler system in construction too. While it may be an upfront cost, it could prove to be priceless should the unthinkable happen.

He adds, “It not only saves you, as an owner the cost of rebuilding, but it saves our communities the time and the efforts of the public safety employees that have to go put this stuff out.”

33 people died in fires so far this year compared to 40 all of last year -- and all 33 deaths have one thing in common

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