DOVER — Prompted by recent deadly blazes, Delaware fire officials issued a reminder to the public regarding the basic principles of fire safety.
The news release sent Tuesday noted the fires that had occurred:
• On Sept. 1, a 13-year-old male died from injuries suffered in a fire in Wilmington.
• A 76-year-old woman suffered critical injuries in a residential fire in Laurel on Sept. 12, while another was seriously hurt and a third transported to the hospital as well, officials said.
• On Sept. 14 in Georgetown, an 87-year-old woman suffered fatal injuries in a house fire. An 18-month-old child was critically injured.
Add it all up and the Delaware State Fire Prevention Commission, Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office and Delaware State Fire School felt compelled to push out fire safety information to residents.
Fire school spokesman Michael Lowe said, “We try to follow up with events that are happening because that’s the work we do.
“We really take it to heart and evaluate our own efforts, asking ‘What could we have done differently? How can we improve?’”
And now, Mr. Lowe said, “We’re just seeking the public’s partnership in making everybody safer, by taking just that extra second to be attentive and look for hazards.
“It’s things like having working smoke alarms, cleaning up clutter in their home, things like that they can do to make themselves and their family safer.
“And that’s kind of our plea — to make the public a little more aware of things it can do to avoid such tragedies.”
While the Laurel fire was determined to have started due to cooking materials igniting on the stovetop, fire marshal spokesman Michael Chionchio said Thursday the blazes in Georgetown and Wilmington remain under investigation.
Officials issued tips and information including:
• The top causes of residential fires remain cooking, heating, electrical, smoking and candles, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
• Do not get complacent in the kitchen. It is still the most dangerous room in the home. Most fires are caused simply by residents being inattentive. Please do not leave pans on the stove and leave the area. You may easily become distracted and a tragic result occur.
• Have your heating system, fireplace and chimney checked by a professional once a year.
• With Delaware’s increasing population of older adults, it is important to realize that those over the age of 65 are twice as likely to die in a fire. Older adults now make up 12% of our population.
• Support is needed to promote residential fire sprinklers. Statistics indicate that a working smoke alarm and a residential sprinkler system reduce the chance of dying in a fire by as much as 91%.
Mr. Lowe noted that National Fire Prevention Week starts Oct. 9.
“Everyone across the state will be promoting fire safety and as we lead into this with three tragedies, it’s a shame,” he said.
And the firefighters who responded to the residential infernos were placed at risk of both physical and mental harm.
“From what I understand, there were efforts that were taken (at the fires) that can only be described as heroic,” he said.
"And that’s very, very positive. But there’s a big push today on firefighter and emergency services wellness and it takes a toll emotionally and mentally on the people that were involved. It really does.”