MCFRS News Release

Deadly week or two .simple safety tips for family fire safety!

Fires strike across the country, killing on the average nine people each day (one every 162 minutes) and injuring thousands.  Each one is a tragedy, and just within the past two weeks about 100 people have died in residential fires, including several particularly horrific ones. 

Yesterday, three people, including two teenage girls, died after an early morning house fire in Ringling, Oklahoma and eight people died in a residential fire in Oswego County, New York.  In Washington, D.C. on New Year's Day, six individuals died in a house fire on Jackson Street, Northeast.  While the cause was listed as accidental/electrical, officials are not sure smoke alarms worked properly.

On Christmas Eve, four died in a house fire in Mount Sterling, Kentucky.  All of the victims were children and officials cannot be certain whether smoke alarms worked. Four adults and three children died in a southwest Philadelphia home the day after Christmas when gasoline was used to fuel a kerosene heater. There were no working smoke alarms in the home and in Baltimore, two people died in a fire above a grocery store.  A young couple died in the blaze and investigators found no working smoke alarms in the building.

In that same time period dozens of Montgomery County, Maryland families have been displaced as a result of residential fires, several residents have been injured and at the same time fire, smoke and water damage as resulted in millions of dollars in property loss.

Several weeks ago, on Wednesday, December 3, 2008 units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service were dispatched for the report of a fire at a house located at 4806 Jamestown Road, near Worthington Drive, in Bethesda. Three children were rescued by firefighters and taken to the hospital. Two needed to be revived by medics. A father and two firefighters were injured and were also transported to local hospitals.  Damage was heavy and a family of five was displaced.  The children were hospitalized for several weeks, initially in critical condition.  They were recently released and their long-term prognosis is good, but none-the-less it was a close call.

On average, more than 3,200 people are killed in fires and 16,400 are injured each year and, ironically, over 82% of these deaths occur in the very place that people feel the safest from fire – their homes.  These are tragedies for the families, the local communities, and the nation.

So often these fires and their fateful outcomes are avoidable through the use of proven fire prevention strategies and education.  By making the public more aware of the role that they have in helping to build a fire-safe community we can make tremendous strides, one home at a time, towards reducing the loss of life and property that occurs every single year.

We have joined together to redouble our efforts to reach out to people across the nation to raise the national awareness of fire prevention.  We know, without a doubt, that by educating our citizens about fire-safe practices and what to do if a fire should break out we can reduce the losses in our communities and work towards a fire-safe future for today’s generation and beyond. 

The men and women of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service are committed to a simple mission – saving lives.  Some of the actions are ones that can be done today, others are for the future.  However, by starting right now, we can someday point back and say that it started today.

We have reduced fire deaths nationally during the last 20 years but the problem and sadness continues to exist. We believe that we can further reduce our national life loss in this area by focusing on these key areas:



The Overall Fire Picture – 2008

Source: National Fire Protection Association


The combination of working smoke alarms and residential sprinklers almost guarantees that a family will survive a home fire.