By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun
6:33 PM EST, January 10, 2013
Fire deaths across Maryland reached a record low in 2012, mirroring — and in part due to — a similar decrease in Baltimore, state fire officials announced Thursday.
There were 52 people killed by fire and fire-related injuries in the state last year, a 22 percent decline from the 67 people killed in 2011, according to records kept by the office of the state fire marshal. The total does not account for individuals still battling life-threatening injuries sustained in fires last year, officials said.
The previous yearly low for statewide fire deaths was 60; it was recorded in 2006 and 2008, fire officials said. The 2012 total is a 13 percent decline from the previous record.
In the past 30 years, the highest number of recorded fire deaths in the state was in 1988, when 129 people were killed, officials said.
Officials credited legislation in recent years requiring that only "fire safety-compliant cigarettes" be sold in the state, and said they expect deaths to continue to decline as new state requirements for sprinkler systems in residential homes are rolled out.
The state's new low, continuing a downward trend over the last two decades, is due in part to a record low in city fire deaths in 2012.
Baltimore had 12 fire deaths in 2012, compared to 17 in 2011. The 2012 total continues a downward trend in city fire deaths that began in 2009.
Fire officials at the state and city levels have pushed for residents to install fire alarms in their homes, with free alarms being handed out to city residents.
According to the office of the state fire marshal, the U.S. Fire Administration has found that "smoke alarms combined with a residential fire sprinkler system increase surviving a fire by over 80%."
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