AFR ‘equipped to handle’ house fires during busy summer

[anvplayer video=”5184708″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Deadly house fires have disrupted neighborhoods across Albuquerque so far this year, from northeast to southeast.

“This morning I woke up to the ambulance of course, sirens. We woke up to smoke we had windows closed, but we still could smell it,” said one woman after a fire near her apartment.

“Makes you wonder when you go to bed at night are you really safe,” said one woman Monday morning, after the city’s most recent fatal fire in a neighborhood near Eubank and Candelaria.

Albuquerque Fire Rescue Lt. Jason Fejer says six people have died in fires in Albuquerque so far this year. That’s compared to nine at this time last year, 12 in 2021, and six in 2020.

“I hate to speak in a law of averages when we’re talking about losing people in house fires. So we’ve had kind of a run on them. But our numbers aren’t really any bigger than they’d been in years past,” said Fejer. “There is an increase that we’re seeing nationally in the number of fatalities in house fires.”

He explained there’s a number of reasons why, including modern construction materials and more open floor plans. Fewer walls and lighter-weight materials are making for bad combinations.

“There are studies that say, back in the day, we had as much as 10 minutes to get out of a house fire once the smoke detectors detect the smoke in the house. Now they say it’s down to as little as two,” said Fejer.

Fejer says the department is equipped to handle what has been a busy summer so far, between outside fires, the Fourth of July holiday, and house fires.

AFR is funded for 764 positions, has 737 filled right now, and has 40 cadets starting the fire academy next month.

Fejer also says now is a good time to double-check your own home and talk to your family about what to do in a fire.

  • Working smoke detectors
  • Having a plan to get out and where to meet during a fire
  • Having operable bars on windows so you don’t get trapped inside
  • Making sure everyone, including kids, knows the home address if they need to call 911