State fire death stats are alarming

Published 7:43 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The state fire marshal is concerned. And he should be.

Alabama saw 122 fire fatalities in 2010, that’s a 43.5 percent increase over the 85 fire fatalities that occurred during 2009.

In a release this week, State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk said “there’s no real rhyme or reason” to the increase, which is not a record high but certainly is a disturbing trend.

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Here in Pike County we saw our share of fires during 2010, from businesses destroyed by fires to house and mobile home fires to brush and wildfires fanned by drought and heat.

We have good reason to be wary of the dangers of fire … and to worry about the potential for loss of life. So what can we do?

The experts in Paulk’s office recommend using common sense: Have a fire evacuation plan, that is shared with all members of the family; check smoke detectors regularly and replace batteries regularly; if a structure does burn, don’t re-enter it … instead, wait for firefighters; and more than anything, educate yourself and your family members about ways to prevent fires and, if the worst happens, what to do in the case a fire does occur.

Nobody likes statistics such as the ones Paulk shared this week, particularly since so much information and so many safety devices are available to help protect lives and property.

The state fire marshal is right to be concerned. But we must each do our part to learn, protect and be alert to fire dangers.