MCFRS News Release

Safety In Our Neighborhoods

Firefighters going door-to-door checking smoke alarms; there has been a significant decline of residential fire fatalities
in MontgomeryCounty

Having a functional smoke alarm is one of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce tragic deaths and injuries from fire. In fact, working smoke alarms nearly cut in half the risk of dying in a home fire.

Since November 2008 the men and women of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) have been checking smoke alarms at least every Saturday afternoon in neighborhoods throughout Montgomery County as part of the ‘Safety in Our Neighborhood’ campaign. 

Montgomery County firefighters have visited over 16,000 homes, installed nearly 450 smoke alarms and installed or changed about 600 batteries.  The primary focus has been in areas populated with older residents and where residential fire fatalities have occurred.  There was a significant decline of residential fire fatalities in Montgomery County. Last year in 2008 there were five (5) residential fire fatalities compared with thirteen (13) the previous year in 2007.  All residential fire fatalities have occurred in a non-sprinklered dwelling.

Fire Chief Richard Bowers notes, “This is a busy time of year for firefighters in this region.  The simplest thing a family can do to protect themselves from fire is have a working smoke alarm, on every level of their home, and have fire escape plan.”

Recent surveys conducted by fire fighters after serious fires in Montgomery County have found that nearly half, 50%, of the smoke alarms checked did not work.  That is alarming!  Smoke alarms DO save lives !

MontgomeryCounty residents may schedule a home safety evaluation by calling the Home Safety Hotline @ 240.777.2476.

The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service recommend that homeowners follow these tips to help prevent fires, deaths, and injuries:

Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as two minutes to escape safely. Your ability to get out depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and advance planning—a home fire escape plan that everyone in your family is familiar with and has practiced.

Because fire can grow and spread so quickly, having working smoke alarms in your home can mean the difference between life and death. Once the alarm sounds, you may have as few as two minutes to escape. Smoke alarms are the most effective early warning devices available.
Remember, check you smoke alarm and put a finger on it!

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

The following News Release is being jointly issued today by 20 national fire safety organizations to raise awareness of the toll that fires are taking. These sobering numbers may bring attention to the importance of fire safety in our communities.
Fatal fires prompt national warning by national fire safety organizations

January 2009 has been a particularly deadly month

Belchertown, MA – February 25, 2009   Fire deaths during January are at a pace above 2008, according to information provided by state fire marshals across the country.  In a snapshot taken of the number of fire deaths in 28 states by the National Association of State Fire Marshals, at least 173 people have been killed during January 2009 as opposed to 131 in January 2008, an increase of almost one-third.  In addition, during January 2009, 82 people died in fires where three people or more were killed as opposed to 42 in 2008 and 51 deaths in 2007. 

Recent tragedies during January include:

Fires strike across the country, killing on the average nine people each day (one every 153 minutes) and injuring thousands.  In 2007, the latest year for which statistics are available, 3,430 people were killed in fires and 17,675 were injured.  Ironically, over 80 percent of the civilian deaths occur in the very place that people feel the safest from fire – their homes.  These are tragedies for the families, the communities, 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.  Each of the organizations listed is 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 combination of working smoke alarms and residential sprinklers almost guarantees that a family will survive a home fire.

The Overall Fire Picture – 2007 (latest year available)

Source: National Fire Protection Association, Fire Loss in the U.S. During 2006 and Firefighter Fatalities in the U.S. 2007.

Fire deaths, January 2008 and January 2009, compiled by the National Association of State Fire Marshals

State 2008 2009
Alabama 9 14
Alaska 3 4
Arizona 3 3
Delaware 2 1
Idaho 1 0
Illinois 13 15
Iowa 4 12
Kansas 2 3
Maine 2 3
Maryland 5 6
Minnesota 0 2
Mississippi 11 8
Missouri 13 13
Montana 1 2
Nebraska 0 5
New Hampshire 2 1
New Jersey 8 7
New York 17 21
Nevada 3 1
North Carolina 11 12
North Dakota 1 2
Oklahoma 4 12
South Carolina 6 15
South Dakota 0 0
Utah 1 1
Washington 4 6
Wisconsin 5 4
Wyoming 0 0
Totals 131 173

32% increase 2008 to 2009