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Editorial: Recognize your local firefighters

Our local firefighters have been extremely busy this year, with drier-than-normal conditions.

Make sure to recognize all they do and say thank you for taking time away from their lives to help others.

This week is National Fire Prevention Week. It's a good reminder to be safe this winter and prevent fires in our homes as well.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, one home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds in 2010.

Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2010, 19 home fires killed five or more people. These 19 fires resulted in 101 deaths.

In 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to 369,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 13,350 civilian injuries, 2,640 civilian deaths, and $6.9 billion in direct damage.

According to an NFPA survey, only one-third of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

Almost three-quarters of Americans do have an escape plan; however, less than half actually practiced it.

One-third of Americans households who made and estimate they thought they would have at least six minutes before a fire in their home would become life threatening. The time available is often less.

Almost two-thirds of reported home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms, according to the NFPA.

Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.

Cooking has been the leading cause of reported home fires and home fire injuries since 1990, according to the NFPA. Unattended cooking was by far the leading cause of these fires.

Half of home electrical fires involved electrical distribution or lighting equipment, the NFPA reports. Other leading types of equipment were washer or dryer, fan, portable or stationary space heater, air conditioning equipment, water heater and range.

In 2010, electrical failures or malfunctions were factors in an estimated 46,500 home structure fires resulting in 420 deaths, 1,520 injuries and $1.5 billion in property damage.

Be safe in your home, have an escape plan and make sure your smoke alarms are working. And don't forget to thank a firefighter.