Cooking fires in DeKalb up 190 percent in DeKalb


Bruce Harrison speaks in front of the Cooking with Care presentation. The presentation focused on preventing cooking fires.

By Kelly Bauer

Cooking fires have increased by 190 percent since 2004 in DeKalb.

This rapid rise was discussed Friday during the DeKalb Fire Department’s presentation, Cooking with Care. Fire Chief Bruce Harrison said the leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking, and an average of four DeKalb civilians are injured from cooking fires every year. There were 41 cooking fires in 2011 in DeKalb.

“We’re basically starting to see more serious fires than we have in years past,” Harrison said.

The presentation was one of the first steps in the department’s plan to increase local awareness of safe cooking and fire prevention. Harrison was joined by Lt. Luke Howieson, a member of the Fire Prevention Bureau.

After a fire around homecoming left one local dead, Howieson said he suggested the department should pass out informative fliers on fire prevention. Now, the department has developed the Cooking with Care presentation to be quick and informative. They hope locals who see Cooking with Care will be safer.

“We’re hoping to see a 50 percent reduction in cooking fires within the next year,” Harrison said. “If it’s predictable, it should be preventable.”

Harrison said that cooking fires are not a “rampant problem” on campus because much of the housing is supervised and students in dorms do not cook. However, he said there have been fires in the Northern View apartments.

“Cooking is an active process,” Harrison said. “It needs to have attendance.”