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Learning to prevent fires is the lesson of the week

So far this year, the Farmington Fire Department has responded to three house fires, one of which was Mother Nature's doing. One was ruled accidental and one is still under investigation.

All the same, Farmington firefighters have a pretty good understanding of this year's Fire Prevention Week theme for 2008: Prevent Home Fires. And this week, they are out and about to promote that theme.

Cooking is the leading cause of house fires, Farmington fire marshal John Powers said, followed by heating equipment and electrical malfunctions. These days, he added, firefighters around the area are also seeing an increase in arson or incendiary fires.

"Last year, we had one house fire," Powers said. "Home fires are increasing for various reasons."

Smoking materials, like cigarettes, pipes or cigars, are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States, contributing to 700 to 900 deaths annually, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Most often, a cigarette or some other smoking material ignites upholstered furniture, mattresses or bedding.

Firefighters went to schools on Tuesday to talk about some of the basics of preventing home fires. This weekend, they will share that information with the families and residents of Farmington, too, during open houses planned at both fire stations.

The open houses will be held from 10 a.m. to noon. Besides being able to see the city's trucks, visitors will be able to tour the stations and visit with fire fighters.