Fire deaths down in Mississippi
Special to The Star
Feb. 12, 2001
Fire safety education efforts are being credited with helping reduce the number of fire deaths in Mississippi.
Insurance Commissioner George Dale, who also serves as state Fire Marshal, said the public education efforts have been ongoing throughout the state.
During 1999, Mississippi experienced 83 confirmed fire-related deaths the lowest number recorded in recent years, according to recently released state Department of Health statistics. Even so, Mississippi's incidence of residential fires and fire fatalities remain twice the national average.
Dale said the improvements in fire protection cut the number of residential fires by more than half and fire deaths by 20 percent.
Public fire safety education and wider adoption of fire codes were credited in the reduction in residential fires, he said.
Nationally, 82 percent of all fire fatalities occur in homes, according to a recent federal study. Fire killed more Americans than all natural disasters combined. Cooking and careless smoking are the leading causes of fire deaths in the U.S., followed by home heating mishaps and arson.
Seniors and small children are at the greatest risk for death, he said.
Amid record-breaking cold weather, it is especially important that greater attention be paid to home fire safety especially in the use of space heaters, warned Clarence Butler, coordinator for Lauderdale County's volunteer fire departments.
Both officials agree that improper use of space heaters ranks among the leading causes of residential fires and fire-related fatalities in the state.