The number of deaths caused by fire in Indiana declined by more than 10 percent last year, state officials said.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security recorded 73 fire deaths around the state during 2015, down from 84 such deaths in 2014.
“While we never want to see anyone injured or killed in a fire, we’re encouraged to see that fewer people were affected this year,” State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson said in a statement.
Advances in technology in the past 20 years are helping firefighters save more people, The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette reported. Firefighter gear can withstand more heat and thermal imaging cameras allow them to search homes quickly and more thoroughly.
“We’re able to get into fires and take more heat, which allows us to search areas faster,” said Deputy Chief Adam O’Connor, a 20-year veteran with the Fort Wayne Fire Department. “We’re able to save a lot of people.”
Allen County, where Fort Wayne is located, had one fire death in 2015. During a recent fire at a Fort Wayne apartment complex, O’Connor said firefighters used thermal imaging cameras to find a trapped man.
“It would’ve been a death,” O’Connor said.
Greeson said officials applaud first responders in Indiana who work to protect those in danger and better educate the public about fire safety. O’Connor touted the Fort Wayne department’s programs that teach children what to do in a fire and that homes need a working smoke alarm.
The state Department of Homeland Security said local fire departments have continued to make smoke detectors available, including in Gary, Frankfort and Indianapolis, where departments have worked alongside the American Red Cross. The state agency says the Red Cross has helped local departments install more than 5,700 smoke detectors in the state since October 2014.
The Fort Wayne Fire Department also provides smoke alarms.