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.