State fire fatalities up 31 percent in 2009

February 16, 2010

By Staff

In 2009, fire agencies reported 59 fire fatalities to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, representing an increase of 31 percent compared to the previous year.

The fire death rate is estimated at 8.8 per million population in Washington state. According to the latest available national statistics (2006 figures), the United States rate is 13.2 fire deaths per million population — Washington ranked 20th lowest in the nation.

December 2009 was the deadliest month since fire fatality reporting became a requirement in 1999, with 19 fire deaths being reported.

The leading known preventable fire causes in 2009 were smoking, representing approximately 17 percent, and electrical appliances or distribution, accounting for nearly 14 percent.

State Fire Marshal Mike Matlick encourages Washington state residents to protect themselves and their loved ones from the devastation of fire by taking steps to eliminate hazards.

If you smoke

-Purchase reduced ignition propensity cigarettes with the symbol FSC marked on the package.

-Smoke outside. Use deep, sturdy ashtrays and make sure cigarettes and ashes are fully extinguished.

-Never smoke in sleeping areas, while on medications or in a home where medical oxygen is used.

Electrical equipment and appliances

-Electrical equipment and appliances should be maintained in top working condition.

-Discontinue use of dilapidated electrical appliances, and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and maintenance.

-Contact a licensed electrician to make modifications or repairs to electrical equipment.

In the home

-Protect you, your loved ones and your home from fire. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside each sleeping area.

-Plan and practice an evacuation drill with all members of your family.

-Install residential fire sprinklers in your home.

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