Cumberland Times-News

October 6, 2012

Rough year

Big fires take toll on people’s lives and property

Cumberland Times-News

— The past year in Cumberland has been a rough one — from a fire standpoint. Several major fires have occurred, including one that claimed the life of three people on Estelle Street and another that killed two children on Harrison Street.

Because of those fires, and several others that caused major property damage in other neighborhoods in the city, this year’s Fire Prevention Week takes on particular significance. The importance of fire safety can not be overstated.

Fire Prevention Week begins today and runs through Saturday. The state fire marshal and fire departments across Maryland are holding activities and events to drive home the importance of fire prevention.

During 2011, the National Fire Protection Association estimates that U.S. fire departments responded to 484,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 2,640 civilian deaths, 15,635 civilian injuries, and an estimated $9.7 billion in direct property damage.  

Maryland experienced 67 civilian deaths resulting from 56 fatal fires. Twenty-seven of those fatal fires occurred between the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and caused 35 deaths. Cooking-related fires remain the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries both in Maryland and nationwide.

A safety message urging planning and preparation for fire emergencies includes a few tips:

• Develop a fire escape plan that identifies two ways out of each room and designate a family meeting place outside.

• Practice your plan at least twice a year.

• If the smoke alarm sounds, go to your closest exit, and if there is smoke on your way out, turn and use your second way out. If you must exit through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit.

These common sense tips can help keep you and your family safe — and alive.