The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3205.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - Board 1

Abstract #68243

Residential Fire-related Deaths in the Presence of a Working Smoke Alarm

Gregory R. Istre, MD1, Mary McCoy1, Joe Pierce2, Martha Stowe, MSW1, and Jeffrey J. Barnard, MD3. (1) Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas, P.O. Box 36067, 5000 Harry Hines Blvd. Suite 101, Dallas, TX 75235, 214-590-4455,, (2) Education and Inspection Division, Dallas Fire and Rescue Department, 2014 Main Street, Room 401, Dallas, TX 75201-4420, (3) Chief Medical Examiner, Dallas County, Office of Medical Examiner of Dallas County, 5230 Medical Center Drive, Dallas, TX 75235

Background: One obstacle to the elimination of residential fire-related deaths is the occurrence of deaths despite the presence of a working smoke alarm (SA+ deaths). Characterization of these deaths may be useful in designing other prevention approaches. Population: Residents of Dallas, TX Methods: We linked residential fire-related deaths identified through the Medical Examiner for 1991-2000 to records of the Fire Department, to identify demographics and circumstances of the fire. SA+ deaths were compared to deaths that occurred in residences without a working smoke alarm (SA- deaths). Results: For the ten years, there were 16,744 residential fires, of which 123 resulted in 167 deaths; house fires--124 deaths; apartment fires--40 deaths; mobile home fires--3 deaths. Of the 3225 SA+ fires, 18 resulted in 26 SA+ deaths. SA+ deaths were more likely at the extremes of age (< 2 years or 80+ years) than SA- deaths (11/26 (42%) vs. 19/130 (15%); RR 2.9; 95% CI 1.6-5.3), implying that impaired response to a SA may have contributed to these deaths. The remaining SA+ deaths (i.e., those 3-79 years) had the following contributing factors: fireplay-related (3), ethanol intoxication (3), re-entering burning residence (2), smoking in bed (2), or arson (2). Thus 23/26 (88%) of SA+ deaths had at least one of these potential contributing factors. Conclusion: Most deaths that occur despite the presence of a working smoke alarm may be prevented by dissemination of currently available preventive measures, including automatic fire sprinklers, and education about child fireplay prevention and escape from fire.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Injury Risk, Injury Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Injury Control Posters: Selected Topics

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA