In 2012, fire deaths lowest since 2009

Firefighters battle a fire. ( DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer )

While homicides spiked in 2012 fire fatalities reached a record low.

There were 25 fire-related deaths in Philadelphia by year’s end –the lowest since 2009, the fire department announced today.

Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers pointed to the department’s community risk reduction and outreach efforts in getting the fire death toll down.

“We’re on the mark,” Ayers said. “We’re doing the right thing focusing on the educational part of the fire equation other than just putting out fires.”

But for Ayers 25 fatalities is still too many, the goal, he said is zero.

A majority –13 of the fatalities occurred in properties that were without smoke alarms or had inoperable smoke alarms.

The fire department also responded to 276,939 emergency incidents –a .3 percent decrease from 2011. Notably of those emergency calls 45,419 were fire-related –a decrease of 5.3 percent and the remainder were emergency medical calls which were up by .8 percent.

With fewer fires these days, Ayers has been working hard to shift the department’s focus toward fire prevention and received a load of backlash from the firefighters’ union and City Council for a plan to rotate 293 senior firefighters by the end of the month.

The union slammed the plan calling it “dangerous,” and Ayers argued the rotations would broaden firefighters' experience by exposing them to busier locations and various neighborhoods. Ayers said the data released today speaks to his goals for the department.