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State Officials: 2012 Fire Deaths Hit Record Low

The previous record low in Maryland was set in 2006 and tied in 2008.

Fire deaths throughout Maryland in 2012 dropped nearly a quarter from the previous year to a new record low, state officials said Thursday.

According to preliminary data announced by the state fire marshal's office, 52 people died in 2012 of "injuries related to hostile fires." That total is 22 percent down from the 67 fire-related deaths recorded in 2011, and 13 percent down from the 60 deaths reported in 2006 and again in 2008, which were then record lows.

In a release, State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard attributed the drop in deaths to safety precautions, including working smoke alarms, home fire escape plans, residential fire sprinklers and "outreach programs that emphasize personal responsibility for surviving a home fire." 

“I applaud the efforts of all who take on the role of informing Marylanders of the value of fire and injury prevention," Barnard stated.

Officials cautioned, however, that the numbers do not include people still receiving treatment for injuries in 2012 fires.

Fire deaths have been declining for years. The average number of fire deaths per year over the last 20 years is 77, but the average in the last five years is 65, officials stated.

The deadliest year for fire deaths in the last 30 years was 1988, when 129 people died of fire-related causes. Maryland has already recorded five fire deaths in 2013, according to the release.

Recent state legislation requiring only fire-safe cigarettes be sold, and requiring sprinklers be installed in most new homes may further contributed to the decline in deaths, officials stated. 

Here are some fire prevention tips offered in the release from the state fire marshal's office:

  • Working smoke alarms should be located on every level of the home, in each sleeping area and in each sleeping room.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly.
  • Develop a home escape plan with a safe meeting place outside and practice the plan with all family members at least twice a year.
  • If having a new home built, insist that fire sprinklers be installed if they are not required.
tom January 10, 2013 at 05:59 PM
Is there an average lifespan for smoke detectors? The monthly test will tell if the battery is good, but I wonder if that's sufficient to know that they'll actually function as designed after years of just standing by. Is there some point at which we should just replace them even if they test good?
M. Sullivan January 10, 2013 at 07:22 PM
From what I hear, the new Smart Meter installations should help bring up the number of fires back to the old levels.
Safety first January 10, 2013 at 11:27 PM
I would replace them every other year. Better safe then sorry. And most are pretty inexpensive.
Evets January 11, 2013 at 12:33 AM
Life of a smoke detector depends on the brand, but most manufacturers recommend every 10 years. I would do it more often. I replace mine every February 29th. It is a good habit to write the date installed inside the cover so you do not have to guess when you bought them. Batteries should be replaced, at minimum, once a year. Don't forget the CO detectors as well. These should be replaced every 5 years. Make sure your CO detectors have battery backups in case the power goes out.
Calique January 11, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Stop listening to the voices in your head.

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