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State records record low number of fire fatalities

LYNN ? State public safety officials say a record-breaking low number of fire deaths occurred in 2006.Forty-three fire deaths were reported, shattering the previous low record of 52 in 2004 and 2005, according to state Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. Three of those deaths were in Lynn.Smoking once again ranked as the No. 1 cause of fire deaths statewide.Last Feb. 10, Norman Deveau was killed as a result of a smoking-related fire at 8 Joyce St. On July 21, a fire at 99 Laighton St. started by a candle left Susan Haley in critical condition. She died days later at a Boston Hospital.The third deadly fire of 2006 occurred Christmas Day on Chatham Street. Josa Mayorquin, an occupant, died at the scene. Investigators determined the fire was smoking related.Lynn had no fire deaths in 2004 or 2005, and one in 2003, which Fire Chief Edward Higgins Jr. isn’t likely to forget.”It was February and I was out with friends celebrating my being sworn in as acting chief,” he said. “We were just being served when I got the call, so everyone had my promotion dinner without me.”That fire, too, was smoking-related. A man caught himself on fire.”Preliminary analysis shows that smoking is once again the leading cause of fatal fires and fire deaths in the state. We expect this will change when the sale of only fire-safe cigarettes are introduced into Massachusetts beginning in January of 2008,” said Coan. “We eagerly anticipate more record low numbers of fire deaths in the years to come.”The 43 deaths included 27 men, 15 women and a child.”We are not aware of ever having such a lower number of children die in fires in the commonwealth,” said Coan, noting that 34 people died in 29 structure fires, six in motor vehicle fires, and three outside in fire-related incidents.As a result of these statistics, the breakdown for last year was 6.8 fire deaths per million state residents, down from 8.2 the previous two years.Interestingly enough, Boston, Worcester and Springfield n the state’s three largest cities combined ? had only five fire deaths last year. Two were in Boston, two in Springfield and one in Worcester.Coan said the low number of deaths for 2006 was record-breaking for the third consecutive year, based on the Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System. He attributed the count to growing use of smoke detectors and escape plans.There were no fire-related firefighter deaths in 2006.

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