Increase in fires seen across Lincoln

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LINCOLN, Neb. – There were four fires in Lincoln on New Year's Eve. Lincoln Fire and Rescue said the amount of fires they've been seeing in the Capital City has gone up 10 percent in the last month.

"We've had carelessness with cigarettes, numerous electrical fires, and those could be caused due to shorts in overtaxed systems," said Guy Pinkman, Acting Battalion Chief, Lincoln Fire and Rescue.

He said the increase could be because of the below zero temperatures.

"We tend to have people using heating devices and other things in their homes and maybe we're getting those things a little too close to other furniture, clothing items or just misuse at times," he said.

In 2017, LFR said they averaged one fire every three shifts. On New Year's Eve, Pinkman said he had four fires in one shift.

He said the brutal cold makes the firefighters' job harder.

"It taxes the the firefighters themselves because of the cold weather, the amount of water that turns to ice makes slip, trip hazards for us as well as it coats our gear causing another 10-15 pounds of weight on us," he said.

Pinkman said the increase in fire related calls could also be because Lincoln's population is increasing. The city has increased its population by 1.3 percent per year over the last five years. The city itself is also growing. Over the last seven years, the city has grown by 5.3 square miles.

"A lot of times, we just want to say 'be smart about what you do, be vigilant about what you do too.' We educate people as best we can on the best practices they can do at home to keep themselves safe and then when that doesn't work we come out and fix the problem afterward," he said.

Pinkman said he's not concerned because they're aware of the growth. Right now there are 14 fire stations, two new ones will be built and two current stations are being replaced.

He said as long as temperatures stay below freezing he doesn't see a decrease in calls happening anytime soon.