Fire station a good move for peninsula


Posted: Friday, June 23, 2006

You’ve heard it a million times:

Numbers don’t lie — and neither do statistics.

· On average in the United States in 2003, someone died in a fire about every two hours (134 minutes), and someone was injured every 29 minutes.

· Four out of five U.S. fire deaths in 2003 occurred in homes.

· In 2003, fire departments responded to 402,000 home fires in the United States, which claimed the lives of 3,145 people (not including firefighters) and injured another 14,075.

· Most victims of fires die from smoke or toxic gases and not from burns.

· Smoking is the leading cause of fire-related deaths.

· Cooking is the primary cause of residential fires.

· In 2003, residential fires caused more than $6 billion in property damage.

· Approximately half of home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms.

· Most residential fires occur during the winter months.

· Alcohol use contributes to an estimated 40 percent of residential fire deaths.

These are all good reasons why the decision by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly to fund a fire station in Kasilof is such a great idea.

Anyone who owns a scanner knows how busy Central Emergency Services is year round — both on medical and fire-related calls — and a considerable number of calls extend to the Kasilof area.

Even though the station will only initially house a CES reserve engine able to hold 500 gallons of water, a medical response unit (not an ambulance, yet), and a wildland response vehicle, it’s a start — and a positive step forward.

Last month’s brush fire off Cohoe Loop started innocently enough with a slash burn, but in a matter of minutes, the fire was out of control.

Time is a fire’s ally, allowing it to expand and destroy. Having a tanker responding from close by would have made a big difference in cutting down the size of the affected area.

While some residents opted to evacuate “just in case,” having the resources on hand would reduce the fear and stress that such incidences bring on.

The voters decision in October to support this valuable project is a prime example of how government should work. Spending $2.5 million may seem like a lot of dollar bills, but how do you put a price on saving lives and making people feel secure in their own neighborhood?

There’s also the benefit of how it will save Kasilof residents money on their insurance. The closer you live to a fire station, the more your rate drops.

A concept that promotes safety and saves money? What a win-win. And that’s a great idea.

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