Michigan fire marshal urges action as fire deaths remain above average

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MICHIGAN (WJRT) (6/15/2018) - Michigan's top fire marshal is issuing a call for action as an increasing number of people are dying in house fires this year.

Already in 2018, 61 people have died in fires. That's about 10 people more than the same time last year.

While most people know there should be a smoke alarm on every floor of a home and in every bedroom, there's something else the Michigan State Fire Marshal's Office is trying to share.

"Closing the door to your bedroom and going out a window is probably the preferred method. We're seeing a lot of the fires we've looked at so far this year, folks tried to leave but they didn't make it to the door," said State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer.

He said smoke and highly toxic gases produced during combustion are preventing people from getting to safety through smoke.

"With what's burning today, the plastics, hydrogen cyanide is a problem," Sehlmeyer said. "The fire gases are a problem."

He offered another routine and potentially life saving piece of advice: Push the button on every smoke alarms once a month to make sure they work and replace the batteries every six months.

Smoke alarms that are 10 years or more old should be replaced.

Sehlmeyer's outreach effort is part of the larger plan by the Michigan Community Risk Reduction Task Force created in September, which aims to reduce the number of fire deaths.

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