NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Fire Marshal's Office is urgently renewing its call that residents turn their focus to fire prevention after January was the third-deadliest month for fire deaths in the Volunteer State since 2010.
According to the SFMO, there were 20 fire-related deaths in Tennessee in January, behind 24 deaths in December 2016 and 21 deaths in January 2010.
Residential fires are not uncommon during the cold weather months, and January historically leads all other months in residential fires, heating fires and fatal fires.
"While fire safety efforts are important all year long, winter brings more fire-related tragedies in Tennessee than any other season, and this winter had an especially deadly start," said State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak. "With two more months of winter still ahead, we are urging Tennesseans to follow safety precautions in order to avoid common winter fire hazards and help prevent fire-related deaths."
In Tennessee, nearly half of all fatal fires occur between November and February. When the temperatures drop below 32 degrees, Tennesseans are 40 percent more likely to have a home fire. For temperatures below 15 degrees, Tennesseans are twice as likely to have a fire. The month of January started brutally cold, causing a spike in residentail fires across the state.
Heating fires are believed to be a major contributing factor for the increase in fires and fire deaths last month. SFMO data indicates that 38 percent of heating fires may have been caused by electric space heaters. The second leading cause of ignition was wood stoves, at 23 percent.
The SFMO reminds Tennesseans to always turn off portable space heaters when leaving a room, test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they're working, practice a home fire escape plan with your family, and always close the door behind you if you have to escape a fire.
Other safety precautions include keeping flammable items three feet away from a furnace, fireplace or heater, checking space heaters and other appliances for frayed or damaged cords, never using an oven to heat a home, and installing smoke alarms on every level of the home.