SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Neighbors in northwest Springfield tell OzarksFirst it’s common to hear about a house fire nearby.

According to the Springfield Fire Department’s quarterly report, more than half of the city’s fires happen in Zone One.

Councilwoman Monica Horton, who represents that area, is aware of the rising issue.

“We have a housing shortage here in Springfield, and we certainly have issues with chronic nuisance properties that need to be addressed,” Horton said, “So we need to shore up our infrastructure in terms of assisting those who are experiencing housing insecurity, particularly post-pandemic.”

Horton said some of these older homes don’t even have smoke detectors. Now, the city and fire department are working together to raise awareness about fire safety.

“That program was called Project Red Zone,” Horton said, “It was certainly it was a door-to-door effort here in Zone One where firefighters went door-to-door to check smoke detectors, put brand new batteries in, install new smoke detectors.”

Jeff Prior, the division chief of community risk reduction with the Springfield Fire Department says older homes in the city weren’t built with the same safety standards in place now.

“We do see a lot more fires on that side of town and there is the demographics of the aging of the home that could play a factor into that,” Prior said, “Newer properties in different parts of town are built to newer fire codes and building codes, which does provide a safer environment.”

Neighbors tell OzarksFirst abandoned homes are often broken into and sometimes catch fire, something the fire department makes an effort to prevent.

“When we’re aware of a fire that takes place, we make notifications to building development services so they can start the process to make sure that the building is secure, in case there is the potential that somebody gets into that structure and potentially could start a fire.” Prior said.