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For the first time, out of all the fire deaths in Massachusetts in a year, none were children

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Photo courtesy of Firefighter Wives Association

STOW — State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey announced that for the first time on record, no children died in fires in Massachusetts in 2020. Historically, children and seniors have been most at risk of dying in fires. “To have no children, no one under the age of 18, die in a fire in Massachusetts is an amazing accomplishment. Through the 26 years of the Student Awareness of Fire Education Program (S.AF.E.), firefighters and classroom teachers have been helping to raise a fire safe generation of children.”

Saugus Fire Chief Michael C. Newbury, president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Massachusetts, said, “This milestone speaks to the hard work of firefighter-educators to teach children what to do to save themselves in a fire. We find fewer children hiding under beds or in closets, because they know how to use their home escape plan.”

State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “Ultimately, responsibility for home fire safety rests with the adults in the home, but the S.A.F.E Program has brought key safety information on maintaining smoke alarms, practicing home fire drills, cooking, heating, candle and match and lighter safety home to those adults. Goodness knows there’s nothing like being nagged by a 3rd grader to test your smoke alarm.”

“Just after this new year began, a child did suffer serious burns in an Oxford house fire. That reinforces how vigilant we must be to keep our children safe from fires and burns,” said Ostroskey.

Preliminary data from the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System (MFIRS) indicates that there were 39 fire deaths in 2020, down from 42 in 2019. The deaths were all adults and 15, or nearly 40%, were older adults over the age of 65. The majority, 31, died in the so-called safety of their own homes. Half of these deaths occurred in homes where there were no working smoke alarms. “Working smoke alarms give you the one thing you don’t have in a fire – time – time to escape,” said Ostroskey. There is only 1-3 minutes to escape the average house fire in a home without fire sprinklers.

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