Building Fire Deaths Must Spur Us All To Remember Fire Safety

Every hour, every day across the United States, a house or business fire breaks out, causing injuries, deaths and property loss.

On April 24, a man died when his rowhouse in the 1200 block of South 46th Street went up in flames, according to a story in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The house had no smoke alarms, according to firefighters.

On April 6, a veteran Philadelphia firefighter was killed in the line of duty as he was battling a three-alarm blaze in a fabric store in Queen Village, according to another Inquirer report. Capt. Michael Goodwin was killed inside the building as he fought the blaze with other firefighters, the story said.

In Bridgewater, N.J., lightning caused a blaze that destroyed a home but caused no injuries on April 10, according to a report on

In Charlotte, N.C., a toddler died in a house fire April 11 that was sparked by a portable fan, according to a report from television station WBTV 3.

Unattended hot dogs left cooking on a stove ignited a house fire April 8 in Birmingham, Ala., that claimed the lives of an 80-year-old woman and her 63-year-old son, according to a report from Some 25 other fires in Birmingham also started the same way in the first three months of 2013, the report said.

All of these tragedies are stark reminders of the need for everyone, including homeowners, tenants, businesspeople and employees, to take steps to prevent fire injuries, deaths and property damage by using caution, common sense and awareness wherever they live, work and play.

A full range of fire prevention and safety tips, including ensuring that homes have at least one functional smoke alarm, maintaining fire extinguishers on site to help put out small fires before they spread, and having planned fire escape routes for your family home in the event of a blaze, are available online from the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).

More than 3,500 Americans die each year in fires and approximately 18,300 are injured, with a majority of those fires occurring in the home, according to the USFA. “There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire,” the group says on its website. “It’s not a question of luck. It’s a matter of planning ahead.”

Other key fire safety rules include being sure not to ever overload circuits or extension cords and never allowing cords and wires to lay under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. “Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell” and have them professionally repaired or replaced, the group states.

Nearly 600 deaths a year are caused by fires in bedrooms, the agency states, many of which are caused by misuse or poor maintenance of electrical devices, such as overloading extension cords or using portable space heaters too close to combustibles. Residents should never smoke in bed and should use lots of care when using portable heaters, which can ignite fires in blankets and other bedding materials.

Cooking fires also cause many deaths, and people always must remember to never leave food cooking unattended, according to the USFA.

Fire safety is critical in every community and only when all residents are aware of the dangers of fire and are working to minimize them can our neighbors and communities be safer.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer want to remind all of our neighbors about the insidious and deadly dangers of fires and highlight the measures we can all take to prevent fires and the tragic loss of life that they bring.

Blogger’s Note:

This MyPhillyLawyer blog post on fire safety is dedicated to a dear friend who died April 1, 2013, due to severe injuries sustained in a house fire that happened in Philadelphia on Jan. 23 in the 4600 block of Larchwood Avenue.

Miki N. Takamori was a 48-year-old medical administrator at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania whose passion for life and exuberance for her friends and her work touched everyone she met.  On the early morning of the blaze, she jumped from a second-story window to escape the flames that filled her home. She was hospitalized for more than two months battling severe burns and other major injuries.  The fire was apparently caused by “non-permanent electrical wiring” on the premises, according to her obituary in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Miki and her energy and good nature will always be missed and loved by her friends and family.