Fire Marshal reports on fire deaths

PIKESVILLE – Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci has announced a preliminary report revealing 64 Marylanders died in 55 fatal fires during 2014. Those fire deaths represent a 7% decrease as compared to the 69 fire deaths occurring in 59 fatal fires in 2013.


That includes one death in Somerset County when 64 year old Edward Ritter died from injuries he received during an early morning fire on May 21, 2014 in the 11000 Block of Warwick Lane in Princess Anne.

In 2014, as in other years, most fire deaths occurred in residential structures (57). Of these fifty-seven fire deaths, fifty occurred in 1- and 2- family dwellings, four fire deaths occurred in apartments and three victims lives were claimed in mobile home fires.


Residential fires accounted for 89% of all fire deaths in Maryland during 2014. Sixteen fatal residential structure fires occurred where smoke alarms were known to have functioned at the time of the incident; however 18 lives were still lost. As in previous years, no lives have been lost in homes protected with residential fire sprinklers.


Fifty-three percent of the victims in residential fatal fires (34), involved adults age 60 and older. This is a 7% increase when compared to 2013. Twelve of these fatalities occurred in homes with either non-working smoke alarms or no smoke alarms installed. More emphasis by family members of senior adults should be placed on fire and life safety to help protect their elders from serious injury or death as a result of uncontrolled fire.


Forty-three fire deaths occurred between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. when the highest numbers of Marylanders are most vulnerable – while they are sleeping. This is the time when most of us depend on life saving devices such as; working smoke alarms and residential fire sprinklers to provide the extra time needed to escape the effects of fire.


Eight counties experienced no fire fatalities, these include: Caroline, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Talbot and Worcester. Baltimore City reported 18 fire deaths in 2014 which is lower than the 21 fire deaths reported in 2013. Montgomery County experienced 8 fire deaths compared to 4 in 2013. Prince Georges County reported a significant reduction in 2014 with 5 fire deaths as compared to 15 fire deaths in 2013.


Additionally, Baltimore and Wicomico Counties both had 5 fire deaths each; Carroll County had 4 fire deaths; Allegany,

Cecil and Howard Counties had 3 fire deaths each; Anne Arundel, Kent and Washington Counties had 2 fire deaths each and Calvert, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, and St. Mary’s Counties had 1 fire death each.


“Every Marylander needs to exercise personal responsibility to protect themselves and their families by ensuring they have working smoke alarms in their homes,” according to the State Fire Marshal. “If you are building a new home, please insist on the installation of residential fire sprinklers. When used in combination; fire sprinklers, working smoke alarms and fire escape plans provide the needed time necessary to protect all Marylanders from the perils of an uncontrolled fire.


– Bruce D. Bouch is Maryland’s Deputy State Fire Marshal.

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