BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The Louisiana Office of the State Fire Marshal (LOSFM) reflected on its challenges and accomplishments in 2021 while looking ahead to growth during 2022.
“It was another challenging year still operating within the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic and facing several weather-related disasters, including another devastating hurricane,” said State Fire Marshal Chief H. “Butch” Browning, “But, once again, this agency found a way to shine through some dark times and I cannot say enough how proud I am of every employee who contributed to that resilience.”
According to LOSFM, it saw an increase in economic development regarding new commercial construction and/or significant renovation projects. SFM said in 2021, there were more than 17,500 submittals compared to 15,600 in 2020 — valuing more than $9.9 billion.
LOSFM conducted 27,000 final inspections on new commercial buildings across Louisiana, inspected hundreds of fireworks stands and displays, and responded to thousands of impairment reports on life safety and property protection systems in commercial businesses.
Deputies investigated more than 670 fire incidents, according to LOSFM. Less than 250 of those incidents were classified as incendiary by LOSFM, which was less than in previous years. SFM said its arrest rate is around 34%, which is above the national average of 21% reported in 2020.
LOSFM reports 59 lives lost in residential fires during 2021, however, the number is a decrease from 77 fire-related deaths in 2020.
The agency said it brought in $1.3 million in revenue after licensing nearly 5,900 individuals and over 1,000 firms. Licenses included life safety and property protection businesses, amusement ride operators, conveyance devices, firework permits and boiler systems.
Ahead of Hurricane Ida’s landfall, SFM’s emergency division with the Louisiana Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Task Force prepared with the largest USAR pre-response in “known U.S. USAR response history.” Over 900 personnel were staged before the storm and increased to 1,300 personnel with teams from 20 states, according to LOSFM.
LOSFM officials said emergency teams rescued and/or evacuated more than 2,600 residents from more than 44,000 structures search.
The agency received help from more than 800 firefighters in Louisiana and other states in the storm’s aftermath to help answer over 5,000 emergency calls. Help arrived in the form of manpower, trucks and equipment.
In 2021, LOSFM said it was awarded $168,000 for its Operation Save-A-Life program, which will install nearly 17,000 smoke alarms in Louisiana homes.
“I am so encouraged and energized by the progress the State Fire Marshal’s Office made in 2021,” said Browning. “We’ve got even more growth in store for 2022 with several projects already in motion, so I hope the people of Louisiana are as excited about how we will serve them in this new year as I am!”