Fire deaths have increased in Philly, leading the Fire Department to increase recruits

Statistics show that more people have died in Philly fires this year than in any other time besides 2014. 

To combat the increase of fire deaths, Philly has upped the number of firefighters they have hired. This is the 196th class of new firefighters coming out of Philly. 

The graduating class of Philly firefighters includes 121 members, which allows for the department to open up stations that have been previously closed. NBC reports that this graduating class will help re-open somewhere between four to seven stations that were closed in 2009.

For engine companies, Engines 1 and 8 in Center City, Engine 14 in Frankford, and Engine 39 in Roxborough will begin operations as soon as November 23. 

NBC reports that the causes of the fire that have led to 32 deaths in 2019 include cooking mishaps, lack of working smoke alarms and faulty electrical wiring. This sharp increase in deaths in 2019 defies a previous pattern of improvement: 2018 had 19 deaths, 2017 had 20 deaths, and 2016 had 21 deaths, the department reported. 

Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said in an interview, at the graduation, “I don’t know that this is a trend,” 

Thiel continued, “We certainly hope it’s not a trend.”

He added, “Tragically, some of those fire deaths are still happening in homes that don’t have working smoke alarms.” 

In addition to adding to the ranks, the department said that they had installed somewhere around 40,000 smoke detectors in homes within the last 18 months. They are also working to raise awareness about fire prevention. 

Thiel also said that “For us, every fire death is an absolute tragedy,” 

He added, “We’re doing everything we can. We need everyone’s help. As we say, fire is everybody’s fight. So please, call 3-1-1. We’ll come out and install the smoke alarms.”

According to in order to get a smoke alarm, you can request it via 311, or you can request it using a Philly311 form. The fire department says that residents should have an alarm on each floor of their homes, including in basements. 

According to, you are eligible to receive a smoke alarm if, “…you live in the City of Philadelphia in a one- or two-family home that is occupied by the owner. If you live in an apartment building, or are renting a house, the landlord must provide smoke alarms on every level of the home. If your landlord has not provided smoke alarms, call Philly311 to report the violation. It might take up to 60 days from the time of your request until the actual installation.”