Tupelo Fire Chief Thomas Walker said fires at apartment buildings in Starkville over the past six months sparked the fire department's decision to target apartment complexes for its newest safety campaign.
As a first step, firefighters will visit every apartment complex in the city next week, passing out pamphlets on fire safety.
"Kids will be getting out of school soon so we felt this was the best time to talk to people about apartment fires," said Walker. "The three main causes of fires are men, women and children, so we want to touch base with everyone to get some important information on fire safety out to them. The three Starkville apartment fires showed a need for fire education for tenants in apartment complexes everywhere."
In December 2009, nine people died in a fire at the Academy Crossing apartment complex in Starkville, making it the deadliest residential fire in state history and the fourth deadliest overall.
On April 19, nearly 25 units at Campus Trails Apartments in Starkville were destroyed by a fire. Earlier in the same month, several units at Crossgates Apartments were destroyed in Starkville. The fires at both Campus Trails and Academy Crossing were started by burning cigarettes.
Because of the high number of families living under one roof in apartment buildings, Walker said the possibility of a fire starting increases.
"People have their own living habits, their own cooking habits and their own fire safety habits," said Walker. "One person may have great fire safety habits but the tenant just one wall away may not, and all it takes is for one person with bad habits to start a fire and then everyone in that building can be affected."
Because apartments built in Tupelo after 2003 weren't required to have fire alarms or sprinkler systems installed, Walker said fire prevention is even more important for these living areas. The majority of the city's apartment buildings were built prior to 2003.
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