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Fire deaths among older population a concern for firefighters

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INDIANAPOLIS – Protecting the older population in house fires continues to be an issue across the country and in the city.

On Thursday morning, a 60-year-old man died in a house fire on Orange Street. It's the second person to die in a home this week. The other took place Tuesday morning at a home on Illinois Street where a 62-year-old was unable to get out in time.

An IFD spokesperson said the department has made it a focal point in recent years to boost fire protection in the homes of people who are 50 and older. Those homes, especially ones where children aren't present, tend to be homes where there aren't working smoke alarms.

"That 50 and older population that doesn’t fit neatly into one of those other categories and sometimes it’s just a forgotten group of population," said CICOA CEO Orion Bell.

Nationally, the National Fire Protection Association said fire deaths in a home between 2011 and 2015 saw the same trend. Over those years, 19 percent of all fire death victims at home were between the ages of 45 and 54. It's the highest population, despite it only making up 12 percent of the general population.

CICOA has worked with IFD and other agencies in the past to find the older audience and remind them to check their smoke detectors or get working ones installed. The IFD spokesperson said they've gone to churches, food pantries and other locations to find the 50 and older crowd.

Bell and the spokesperson said they need to continue to find that audience and get the message to them.

"It’s a life-saving activity," Bell said. "It’s something you can do, a simple thing you can do, to ensure your safety, and increase the likelihood that you can get out of your home if there is a fire."

IFD does offer free smoke alarms. The department does conduct its home safety visits every first Wednesday and third Saturday of the month.

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