According to a report by the Maine State Fire Marshal's Office on fire fatalities from 1983-1992 there were: 216 fatal fires resulting in 294 fatalities,
90.5% of fatal fires were in residential buildings, of which 80% were in one and two family dwellings.
10.7% of fatal fires had working smoke detectors.
The number one cause of fatal fires was careless disposal of smoking materials, followed by heating related then arson and juvenile making second and third. Children under 14 and adults over 65 comprised 56% of fatalities while only accounting for 37% of the population. There were 163 fatal fires in one and two family homes resulting in 224 fatalities, or 76% of all fire fatalities in the State.
According to a report commissioned by the Town of Harpswell in 2007, Cundy's Harbor Fire Department had a turnout time to structure fires of 11 minutes and 30 seconds after being notified. This combined with fire flashover occurring in under 8 minutes and having to truck water up to 4 miles one-way often leaves the fire department behind the eight-ball when they get there.
What can you do?
Have smoke detectors in your home at least on every floor, in bedrooms and living areas.
If you don't already have battery operated smoke detectors in your home, consider installing hardwired units that are interconnected and all sound when one smells smoke. This is the law for all new homes in Maine. Please do not install them in cooking areas.
Test your smoke detectors monthly.
Have a plan for your family in the event of a fire or emergency, including 2 ways out and where to meet. Leave the house first before calling 911.
Have a home fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
Don't smoke in bed. Remember that the number one cause of fatal fires was smoking. Dispose of all smoking materials in a safe manner.
Shovel all of your exits promptly so that you can use them to escape, and the firefighters can use them to rescue you.
Identify your street number on the front of you house with at least 4" numbers that stand out against the background. If your driveway does not have an accepted street name and your house numbers can't be seen from the main road, an address sign that can be read from both directions on the main road so that the Fire Department can find you fast.
If you are building a new home, install a residential fire sprinkler system. It is like having a firefighter in your home 24/7, and can pay for itself in reduced insurance premiums (consult your insurance professional for more information). Some new home buyers are even having difficulty getting insurance without residential sprinklers because of the rural geography of our community and the need to transport firefighting water great distances.
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