The Tennessee State Fire Marshal's Office announced this week that fewer structure fire fatalities occurred in 2015 than in any year in recorded Tennessee history, including a milestone year achieved last year.
Seventy-two people died in accidental home fires across the state in 2015 - down from 76 fatalities in 2014. Both years were record-breaking improvements compared to 2013's fire fatality total of 100.
The three leading causes of 2015's fire fatalities were smoking, electrical distribution (wiring, outlets) and heating, according to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System, which indicates that nearly 80 percent of last year's state fire deaths took place in homes where no smoke alarm was known to have been present.
"The loss of life in a fire is a tragic event that we are committed to stopping," Tennessee Commerce & Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak said. "Our partners in the Tennessee fire service community have worked diligently to prevent loss of life, and our teamwork is paying off."
“The Tennessee fire service is on a mission to reduce fire deaths and injuries," added Claire Marsalis, Community Risk Reduction Coordinator for the Department of Commerce and Insurance for the Fire Prevention Division of the Tennessee State Fire Marshal's Office and NFPA public education network representative. "We’re very excited to see documented success as a result of our collaborative efforts, but we can’t stop here. The cold weather always brings an increase in fire fatalities to our state, so we’re ramping up our fire safety awareness campaigns as we move forward into 2016.”
Tennessee has seen a 28 percent reduction in fire fatalities during the past five years (2011-2015) from the previous five-year average (2006-2010).
Launched in November 2012, the "Get Alarmed Tennessee" program is responsible for more than 100,000 smoke alarms being distributed by the state fire marshal's office. More than 450 fire service partners work to install the 10-year battery alarms in homes statewide. This program, along with focused fire prevention in high-risk areas of the state, has helped increase awareness about the dangers of fire.