Recent deadly fires in Merrill renew emphasis on fire safety, prevention

Published: Feb. 19, 2020 at 8:04 PM CST
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In the last two months, there have been three major house fires in Merrill. Two have been deadly, and in the most recent there were injuries.

Chief Josh Klug says one of the things the Merrill Fire Department has always prided itself on is the amount of fire prevention they do within the community.

"The first part of our mission statement is to prevent harm," Klug said.

Klug says there were just two deaths over the past last 15 years. But, now with two in the last two months, it's raising fire safety awareness.

We want to make this, obviously, a positive thing," Klug said. "Where people moving forward can say, 'hey, what can i do in my home? How can we remember these victims by doing a little part to make your home and community and our community even safer."

First and foremost, smoke detectors. Thanks to a grant from the American Red Cross, the department will come to your home and install them. They've installed 90 in the last year.

"What we can do is preach and promote that fire safety, fire prevention method."

A newer fire safety phrase to remember, "close before you doze."

"Close that bedroom door," Klug said. "What that's going to do for you is provide a barrier between the fire and yourself."

In the last 40 years the escape time has dropped from 17 minutes to just three, because of the change in synthetic materials, furniture and construction.

"Push the button on your smoke detector, make sure its up. Make sure the batteries are in and it beeps when you push the test button."

Also, make sure your room has two ways to get out.

As for the three fires recently in Merrill, the causes for all were undetermined. But, Chief Klug says none are suspicious, illegal or due to negligence.

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