Stopping fire deaths in Shreveport

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - After five fire deaths this year in Shreveport, Fire Chief Brian Crawford took action, helping establish a task force comprised of community leaders, fire officials, along with public and elected officials.  They released their 16-recommendations this week.

The sight of gurneys removing victims from a fire used to be a very rare sight in Shreveport, with zero in 2006 and 2007.  That all changed this year.  Chief Brian Crawford told KSLA News 12, "this year alone we've lost two elderly in those neighborhoods and we've lost three children that have died in separate apartment fires."

Just this week at Fox Trail Apartments in Shreveport, a father ran back inside his unit despite the fire, fearing for his children.  "But they had exited. The father had thought that the children were still inside.  So, he went back in to find them.  That's when he sustained the burns,' explained SFD Spokesman Scott Wolverton.

The father suffered severe burns to his arms, which Wolverton said could have been prevented had the family known a common safety tip about having a designated meeting place if a fire breaks out.

A community task force hopes to change this pattern with 16-recommendations they just released.  "They're not detailed recommendations because what we want to do is we want to put a strategic plan together to implement these recommendations,' said Chief Crawford.  He hopes that plan is completed in 6-months.

Crawford said the plan will give priority to steps which can get done first and with little cost.  "They involve community partnerships with churches, literature and safety messages at barber shops, grocery stores," continued Crawford.

He also pointed to longer-term projects, including something that Shreveport City Councilman Calvin Lester recommended called the '10-10-10 Program,' "to 10-thousand smoke alarms in 10-thousand residences by the year 2010.  And they're 10-year lithium battery smoke detectors."

The only challenge to the 10-10-10 Program:  Its price tag of 150-thousand dollars.  Chief Crawford said that will require a grant to make it possible.