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Number Of U.S. Fire Deaths Drops To Lowest Level In At Least 81 Years

The number of people killed by fires in the United States dropped in 1994 to the lowest level in at least 81 years, a fire-safety group reported.

The National Fire Protection Association credited better safety standards and increasing use of smoke detectors in recent years.

The private organization issued its annual report on fire deaths Wednesday. The group, founded in 1896, gathers data from fire departments around the country.

The NFPA reported that 4,275 people died in fires in 1994, not counting firefighters. That was a 7.8 percent decrease from 4,635 the previous year.

It is the lowest total since reliable record-keeping began in 1913, NFPA spokesman John Hall Jr. said. A National Safety Council analysis of death certificates found 8,900 fire deaths that year.

Fires in 1994 injured 27,250 civilians, down 10.8 percent from 1993, when the World Trade Center bombing injured more than 1,000 people. Property damage fell 4.6 percent, from $8.5 billion to $8.2 billion.

The NFPA said reasons for the improvement include tougher fire codes, improved fire resistance in furniture and children’s pajamas, better public education and increased use of smoke detectors in homes.

Smoke detectors, virtually unknown in the early 1970s, are now in 93 percent of U.S. households.

However, Hall said better public education has given other developed countries fire death rates that are about 25 percent lower than that of the United States.

xxxx Death by fire Figures released Wednesday in a report by the National Fire Protection Association on 1994 U.S. civilian fire deaths: Deaths: 4,275, down 7.8 percent from the previous year. Rate: 16.4 fire deaths per 1 million people. Injuries: 27,250. Property damage: $8.2 billion. Firefighter deaths: 100.