Experts: Safety cleanup could save a life

April 19, 2004|By BRIAN SHAPPELL

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The number of fire deaths in Maryland is about half of 2003's total with more than eight months left in the year.

And as the statistics continue to spike in 2004, the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office is urging residents to do a "safety clean-up day" as part of their spring cleaning rituals.

Deputy State Fire Marshal W. Faron Taylor said Sunday that through Friday, 45 fire fatalities were reported statewide, including two in Washington County. Taylor said all but one of those deaths occurred inside residences.


By comparison, 71 fire deaths were reported in the state in 2003, the third-lowest total on record, Taylor said.

As a result, officials came up with the "Spring Into Safety" information initiative, Taylor said.

A fire marshal's office news release suggested the following four approaches as part of a spring safety cleanup:

  • Remove all hazards including piles of rubbish or stacks of publications and damaged appliance cords or wiring.

  • Properly store flammable liquids and home chemicals. Keep gasoline and cleaning fluids away from children and pets. Keep work areas clean.

  • Check fire protection and safety equipment by testing smoke alarms and flashlights. Make sure doors and windows open easily for fast escapes.

  • Plan your escape by sitting down with family members to plan two ways out of every room. Set up an outside meeting place and practice the chosen routes.

    Taylor said officials discussed the need for such initiatives at the Life Safety Summit in College Park, Md., in March.

"We saw what appeared to be an unusually high number of fire fatalities in the state," he said. "Whereas in the past, there may have been a jurisdiction or two tracking ahead of where they had in previous years, but that was offset by others that had fewer."

Taylor said that nearly every area in the state was either "holding pace or way ahead" of last year.

There have been two fire-related deaths in Hagerstown since early February.

  • On Feb. 5, firefighters who battled a blaze at 201-203 E. Franklin St. firefighters found Henry Dean, 68, dead inside a third-floor apartment. Ron Horn, deputy fire chief of the Hagerstown Fire Department, said the fire was caused by a child playing with a lighter.

  • On April 8, firefighters fought a fire at 460 McDowell Ave., that claimed the life of Shane Meldron. Police have said Meldron was about 40 years old.

    City fire investigators have not released information on the cause of the fire or the specific cause of Meldron's death.

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