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Fewer Maryland fire fatalities so far in 2012 than in 2011

April 15, 2012

FUNKSTOWN — So far this year, Maryland has had fewer fire fatalities than at this point last year, State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard told members of the Maryland Fire Chiefs Association on Sunday.

There have been 15 fire fatalities so far this year, compared to 20 at this time last year, Barnard said during an association meeting in Funkstown.

The coldest stretch of the year, when there tend to be more fire fatalities, is over, Barnard said.

The mild winter could be a factor in the decline in fatalities, however, Barnard also credits 2007 state legislation that changed the design of cigarettes sold in Maryland after July 2008.

Newer cigarettes have “speed bumps,” so when they are not actively being smoked, they tend to go out on their own unless there are windy conditions to give the cigarette more oxygen, Barnard said.

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The number of fire fatalities in Maryland caused by smoking materials decreased from 18 in 2009 to nine in 2011, Barnard said.

Smoking materials had been the top known cause of fire fatalities in Maryland, but for the past two years, it has been electrical malfunctions, Barnard said.

— Julie E. Greene

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