TOKYO — The Tokyo Fire Department is urging residents to stop smoking in bed and to install and inspect fire alarms at home following a spate of new deaths in the capital.
Preliminary figures indicate that 15 people had died in house fires in Tokyo this year as of Jan. 27 — 2.5 times the number over the same period last year. In the light of the increase and the fact that fires are frequently seen through March, the fire department is strengthening its vigilance.
According to the agency, excluding seven cases where the cause of the fire was unknown or under investigation, five fires were caused by heaters and two by mishandling of cigarettes. In particular, compared to previous years, the number of cases in which electric heaters came in contact with bedding or other items and started fires has been on the rise. Eighty percent of the people who died were elderly.
Based on this situation, the agency is stressing the need for residential fire alarms. Periodic inspections are also essential because, after 10 years of installation, they may no longer detect fires due to deterioration of electronic components, among other reasons. An official at the fire department said, “Correct installation (of fire alarms) enables prompt initial fire extinguishing and prevents the spread of damage.”
(Japanese original by Ayumu Iwasaki, Tokyo City News Department)