Cumberland Times-News

October 6, 2012

It’s Fire Prevention Week in Maryland

Officials hope lives can be saved through observance

From Staff Reports
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Gov. Martin O’Malley proclaimed Oct. 7 to 13 as Fire Prevention Week and has urged all residents to join in and support the observance.  

The Office of the State Fire Marshal is taking an active role in the Na-tional Fire Prevention Association’s Fire Prevention Week by supporting local activities and events that will both entertain and educate the public.

Its goal is to raise awareness of key fire safety issues helping Marylanders to prevent fires and fire injuries, in particular, those that may impact their own homes.

“If there is a fire in your home, you may have only minutes to escape. Having working smoke alarms and a well-practiced home escape plan, involving knowing two ways out of every room, are crucial so that everyone knows exactly what to do if a fire occurs,” said State Fire Marshal William Barnard. “Taking the time to plan for your family’s safety and well-being can make the difference should a fire emergency happen.”

NFPA selected the 2012 Fire Prevention Week theme, It’s Fire Prevention Week — Have Two Ways Out,  to highlight a serious concern for safety. Fires in the home take a great toll on life and property each year.

During 2011, NFPA 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.

Two types of smoke-sensing technologies are available in smoke alarms. An ionization smoke alarm responds more quickly to flaming fires, whereas, a photoelectric smoke alarm responds more quickly to smoldering fires.

Ionization alarms are more likely to alert during normal cooking than photoelectric alarms. It is recommended to have both types of smoke alarms or dual-sensor type alarms in your home.

Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of your home, outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. Interconnected smoke alarms are most highly recommended because when one smoke alarm activates, all of them will. A licensed electrician should install hard-wired smoke alarm systems. However, wirelessly interconnected smoke alarms can be installed by the homeowner.

Test smoke alarms monthly by pressing the test button. Replace batteries at least once a year and replace the entire smoke alarm every 10 years.

Smoke alarms are also available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Marylanders should consider purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm if they live in a home that has liquid-fueled space heaters, an attached garage, gas appliances, oil heat, wood stove and/or a fireplace. Carbon monoxide detectors should be located on every floor of the home.