By Brian S. Geraci, Maryland State Fire Marshal
March 30, 2023
To: All Marylanders
I am here to inform you that the State of Maryland has seen the worst increase in fire deaths in the first three months of 2023 than in any other time in recent decades.
Close to 40 Marylanders have lost their lives to fire from the eastern shore to the mountains of western Maryland. This deeply saddens and concerns me to my core. We need to slow this trend down immediately.
I will tell you that fires these days’ burn faster and hotter and produce toxic smoke that can kill you quickly. Fire does not discriminate; it can be present in your home on any given day or night when we see these fires the most. You have the least amount of time to escape a fire in your home than at any other time in history.
What can you do to reduce your risk from fires? First, know that the leading cause of fires here in Maryland are cooking, electrical, smoking materials, and heating appliances. What are the leading circumstances of Marylanders dying in fires? Failure to recognize the causes of fires and taking those steps to prevent them from happening.
Fire can and will strike your family at any given moment. You need to be prepared!
• Have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area and inside each bedroom. Battery-only alarms must be a ten-year sealed battery alarm. Call the local fire department or the State Fire Marshal’s Office if you need smoke alarms. They are free, and we will even install them for you.
• At night, make sure all bedroom doors are closed, and be sure to close all doors behind you when you are escaping a fire. This will prevent the spread of smoke and fire throughout your home and give you time to be rescued if trapped by a fire.
• Meet with your family and develop an escape plan, have two ways out of every room. Make sure door locks are openable without using a key, and that bedroom windows are operational from the inside. Have a meeting place outside the home so your family can ensure everyone got out.
• Get out and Stay Out Always! Once out, NEVER EVER go back inside a burning building! You will not come back out alive.
• Once out, make that 911 call immediately to the fire department to get them started as soon as possible.
Please remember that fire is everyone’s fight. We need your help to prevent fires in your homes to keep you, your family, and our firefighters safe. These five steps will help save you and your family in the event of an unwanted fire in your home.
Brian S. Geraci,
Maryland State Fire Marshal