ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi is on pace once again to have the lowest number of fire deaths on record.
State chief deputy fire marshal Ricky Davis tells The Clarion-Ledger 62 people died in fires last year, with 37 of those deaths occurring by Aug. 1.
The 62 deaths were the lowest since record-keeping began.
This year, through Aug. 1, the state fire marshal’s office has investigated 26 fire deaths, according to Davis.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, whose office oversees the state fire marshal, credits Davis and his effort to get smoke alarms into homes with the reduction in fire deaths.
Davis has championed a program designed to provide smoke alarms to be installed in low-income homes throughout Mississippi.
He also was instrumental in getting the passage of the Fire Standard Complaint Cigarette Law, designed to decrease the number of fire deaths from cigarettes.
In 2011, there were 80 fatalities in fires, Davis said.
“These save lives and everyone should have one,” Chaney says of smoke alarms. “We used to lead the nation in fire deaths, but that isn’t true anymore.”
In 2009, the state fire marshal’s office began partnering with local fire departments and community groups in an effort to install working smoke alarms in homes throughout Mississippi. The alarms were made available through three fire prevention and safety grants received through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in an amount totaling more than $1.9 million.
Fire deaths are down more than 35 percent since 2009.