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Home  |  News  |  Smoking and Fire Deaths- Careless smoking; number one cause of preventable home fire deaths nationally

Smoking and Fire Deaths- Careless smoking; number one cause of preventable home fire deaths nationally
Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Columbia, SC - Richland Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins states in the last two months the department has responded to several structure fires caused by careless use/discard of smoking material (cigarette) with one of those resulting in a fatality and another that was on the third floor of an apartment building that contained 24 units; with the potential for death, injury and property damage it is too great to ignore the hazards of careless smoking.

Nationally, smoking is the number one cause of preventable home fire deaths when a cause has been determined. Based on a 2011 report by the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA) National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) smoking was the leading cause of fatal residential building fires between the years 2007 and 2009. During the same time period, the USFA reported an estimated 2,630 civilian fire fatalities resulted from 1,700 fatal residential building fires and an estimated 374,900 residential building fires.

Chief Jenkins states “Though the fire fatality numbers for South Carolina are much lower (55 during 2011 of which 2 were smoking related) and even much lower in Richland County (3 during 2011), one person killed in a preventable home fire is just too many”.

Chief Jenkins implores those who smoke or those who live with a smoker to follow these fire-safe smoking practices:

  • Smokers should smoke outside and use ashtrays with a wide, stable base that won’t tip over.

  • Always make sure cigarettes and ashes are completely out.

  • Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash.

  • Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away.

  • Chairs and sofas burn fast so never put ashtrays on them and check for cigarettes under cushions if people have been smoking in your home.

  • If you are drowsy or falling asleep, put it out.

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, test them once a month and change the batteries at least once a year.

  • Make and practice a home fire escape plan

For these and other fire safety tips please visit the Fire Prevention page on the CRFD website: www.columbiasc.net/fire.

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