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Baltimore Fire Department touts record low fire fatalities in 2020

Seven people died in fires in Baltimore in 2020, the fewest recorded in a single year in more than 200 years in the city, fire officials said.

It’s a subtle milestone in the margins of a year that was consumed by deaths attributable to the coronavirus and homicides.

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Still, the work of the Baltimore Fire Department to prevent further fire fatalities enthused city leaders.

“Every life saved is monumental for us all and a testament to the efforts of our first responders who continue to make a huge impact in this city,” Mayor Brandon Scott said in a statement released by the fire department.

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Among the fatal fires of 2020 was a rowhome blaze in the 1800 block of Presbury Street in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. That fire in April left one person dead and injured a firefighter.

Over the past decade, the department has attributed fatal fires to portable heaters and a lack of smoke alarms. Officials said there was no year more deadly for fires than 1984, when 88 people died.

The fire department attributes the low number of fatalities in 2020 to the commitment of its personnel, from firefighters to emergency medical technicians, 911 specialists to fire instructors.

“While my overarching goal is to have zero fire fatalities, this is a great step in the right direction,” Fire Chief Niles Ford said in a statement. “This was a significant decrease that is unmatched and my hope is that we will continue this downward trend.”

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The department also conducts proactive measures to firefighting by installing smoke alarms, performing safety sweeps and informing the community about fire safety. The department will continue to do the preventive work and rush to suppress flames and save lives, Ford said.

“Anytime there’s a fire fatality, it affects us all,” Ford said.

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