Council instructs LAFD to launch safety campaign after fire deaths

After a spike in fire-related deaths in early 2014, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to instruct the fire department to develop a program for distributing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and create a fire safety campaign.

The campaign will be translated into multiple languages -- including Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog -- and promotes the importance of safety alarms.

The council also asked city officials to report back in coming months on the cost of conducting yearly inspections to determine whether homes and apartments have working smoke alarms. They also asked for information on whether to require the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in every home.

Interim Fire Chief James Featherstone told the council the city had seven fire-related deaths in January. There were 21 in all of 2013 and 22 in 2012.

"Any death of an Angeleno is tragic," Featherstone told the council. "To have the number of deaths that we've had in the month of January is a crisis call for us."

After the seventh death in January, Los Angeles Fire Capt. Jaime Moore said, "We've never had these number of fatalities in such a short amount of time."

Moore said the high number is surprising because deaths typically occur more during cold winters when residents start using furnaces, space heaters and even small grills. But this winter has been dry and unseasonably warm.

"That's the irony of this," Moore said. "We've had seven fatalities without a cold spell."

Typically, the department averages one to two deaths by this point in the year, Moore said.

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