MCFRS News Release

Prevent Fires - Save Lives - Here's How

Several Multiple Residential Fire Fatalities a Cause for Alarm

A Montgomery County house fire early in the morning of May 7, 2007 killed an elderly couple in their home in Kensington, Maryland.

Six people were killed in a Baltimore row house fire this week on May 22. Detroit is reporting its seventh fire fatality in the city in five days. Saginaw, Michigan is mourning the death of a man and five children killed in a house fire early Thursday, May 24. Two weeks ago, a Kentucky mom and her two children perished in a blaze. Locally on the same day, May 23, a 47 year old woman died in a townhouse fire in Fairfax County, Virginia and 83 year old woman died in a house fire in Howard County, Maryland.

The U.S. Fire Administration cites the following statistics:

The International Association of Fire Chiefs is appealing for something to done this holiday weekend. "Something has to be done. Someway, somehow, we have to get the word out to people to protect themselves. We now have more protection available for our homes than ever before and yet people are losing their lives because they are not taking this protection seriously," said International Association of Fire Chiefs President, Chief Jim Harmes.

Montgomery County Fire Chief Tom Carr says, "Any loss of life is tragic, but it is even more so when that death could have been prevented. Prevention and home safety first is what needs our focus. Since the beginning of 2005, up to the present, we have had thirteen (13) fire-related deaths in Montgomery County," he adds, "and twelve out of the thirteen victims were over the age of 75." About a year ago, as a result of this disturbing trend in Montgomery County, a Senior Citizen Fire Safety Task Force has been established.

Even though Montgomery County has one of the lowest fire death rates, per capita, in the State of Maryland, in order to address the increasing death rate among seniors in fires, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Fire Chief Tom Carr look forward to a Senior Citizen Fire Safety Task Force report charged with making recommendations to help solve issue of seniors dying in fires. Chief Carr noted, "The Senior Citizen Fire Safety Task Force has a number of good people working hard to address this specific problem and troubling trend." The report is due to be presented in June.

Some recent incidents resulted in notable damage and major disruption while others were discovered early and managed easily. Human factors, including appropriate and sometimes inappropriate human response to these factors affected the outcomes, some positive and dramatic, others not so good.

There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire. It's not a question of luck. It's a matter of planning ahead.

Remember - the message is simple:

Develop an Escape Plan
Identify two ways out of each room in your home, identify a meeting place for your family outside, practice your plan at least twice a year when you change your clock. Once Outside - Account for all family members at your designated meeting place, call 911 from a safe location, never go back inside a burning building for any reason.
Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives
Ensure you have a working smoke alarm on each floor of your home, additional smoke alarms can be placed in sleeping and kitchen areas, test your smoke alarms monthly, change the battery when you change your clock twice a year, if your smoke alarms are powered by your homes electrical system consider installing battery powered smoke alarms as a back up in case of a power outage.

For a free home safety evaluation in Montgomery County call the hotline at 240.777.2276 to schedule a time.

REMINDERS:

Kitchen Fires.
Most kitchen fires occur because food is left unattended on the stove or in the oven. If you must leave the kitchen while cooking, take a spoon or potholder with you to remind you to return to the kitchen. Never cook with loose, dangling sleeves that can ignite easily. Heat cooking oils gradually and use extra caution when deep-frying. If a fire breaks out in a pan, put a lid on the pan. Never throw water on a grease fire. Check appliances for cleanliness and wear and tear.
Smoking.
We prefer that you don't smoke at all, but if you must - Don't leave smoking materials unattended. Use "safety ashtrays" with wide lips. Empty all ashtrays into the toilet or a metal container every night before going to bed. Never smoke in bed. Don't smoke when drowsy.
Candles.
Keep burning candles out of children's and pet's reach; keep matches and lighters out of sight and locked away. Make sure they are in stable holders. Do not leave candles unattended - especially around children or pets. Do not place candles near draperies or anything that might easily catch fire. Make sure you put out candles when you go to bed or leave the home.

See: International Association of Fire Chiefs for news release: http://www.iafc.org