The rate of fire fatalities is up in Alabama. And, state fire officials say they are more than just concerned about that increase. Fire department officials see that there is now a greater need to educate Alabama residents about the responsibility of protecting their homes from fire. And, they intend to do just that. So, with a renewed motivation for fire safety, this week, fire chiefs from throughout our state have come together to launch a new statewide program to reduce the fire fatality rate in Alabama. They have united their resources and created the campaign “Turn Your Attention to Fire Prevention.” Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Alan Martin heads up the committee task force, and Oxford Fire Department Fire Chief Gary Sparks, is on that committee with several other chiefs to educate the public about fire prevention. Chief Sparks says his department will increase their efforts to educate the public on how to avoid serious injury or death if fire occurs. Fire officials say there were a total of 81 fire fatalities for all of last year, and that current deaths related to fires supersede more than half of that number from last year. Officials have looked at the unusual and severe winter that our region experienced and how people inappropriately used heating appliances to stay warm, causing some area home fires. And recently, home fires such as the one in Keener have taken the lives of children and seriously injured others. The campaign’s fire safety messages will include: Watch Your Cooking, Give Space Heaters Space, Smoke Outside, Inspect Electrical Cords, Be Careful When Using Candles, Have a Home Fire Escape Plan, Install Smoke Alarms, Test Smoke Alarms, and Install Sprinklers. Fire Department officials say they hope the campaign will help change people’s behaviors that cause most of the unintentional fires and will cause Alabamians to make their homes more fire safe.