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Martinsburg fire marshal promotes smoke detectors

October 08, 2008

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - In recognition of National Fire Prevention Week, Martinsburg's city Fire Marshal G. Edgar Gochenour is urging residents to make sure they have at least one working smoke detector in their homes and to be cautious when using kitchen appliances.

"The single leading cause for all house fires is cooking fires, usually as a result of unattended cooking," Gochenour said in a news release.

"If you are frying, grilling or broiling, you should never leave the kitchen before turning off the stove."

Gochenour is reminding residents that at least one working smoke detector is required by state law and that fire officials can help install them.

"According to ... National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than one out of every four American households (estimated) they would have at least six minutes before a fire in their home would become life-threatening," Gochenour said in the release. "The time available is often less."

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In 2006, the Martinsburg Fire Department investigated 25 fires, including one fire fatality, according to Chief Paul E. Bragg's annual report. Last year, the department investigated 30 fires, but there were no fatalities.

Gochenour said nearly 400,000 home fires were reported in the U.S. in 2006, resulting in more than 2,500 civilian deaths and 12,500 civilian injuries.

Gochenour said area residents can contact the Martinsburg Fire Department at 304-264-2111 for more information about fire prevention.

"We would be happy to speak with you or your organization and demonstrate some safety tips for you," Gochenour said.

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