2 NEWS Investigates: Montgomery County fire deaths top state list

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Two people have died in fires in the Miami Valley in just the past week.

2 NEWS Investigates uncovered one local county consistently has the most deaths of any county in Ohio.

Montgomery County is topping the list again this year as one of the counties in Ohio with the most fire related deaths and local data shows that just having a smoke detector may not be enough to prevent them.

Smoke, Fire, and Fatalities.  They are words firefighters in Montgomery County have heard too often lately.

“It’s very sad for everyone involved,” said Dayton Assistant Fire Chief Michael Caudill.

A Middletown fire and Jefferson Township fire in April are among the many that carried fatalities just this year.  2 NEWS Investigates found this is not just a yearly spike, Montgomery County had 11 fire deaths last year and has already had seven this year.

Natalie: “When you see these numbers does it concern this area?”

Assistant Chief Caudill: “Ah yes. Very much.”

We compared those numbers with the rest of the counties in the state and found Montgomery had the most fire related deaths last year and is tied with Trumbull County for the most already this year.

Natalie: “Do you think there’s any particular reason why we have more in this area?”

Assistant Chief Caudill: “No. I don’t know. I think part of it may be an economic issue where people don’t see it as a priority.”

Caudill said they’ve noticed an alarming fact with their own data

“One troubling factor that we’ve noticed in recent years is when people have smoke detectors.  They’re not working,” said Caudill.

Fire investigators say non-functional smoke detectors played a role in a fire last week in Dayton that killed a mother and her son.

Another concern: Dayton fire Investigators tell me homes are being built more energy-efficient now-a-days and furniture is made with materials such as foam and plastic. These are two factors they say may also be causing more fires and fatalities.

Natalie: “What would you suggest to the people who are living in Montgomery County? What can they do to keep themselves safe?

Assistant Chief Caudill: “Primarily make sure you have working smoke detectors. Check them on a monthly basis, that you replace the batters at least every six months.”

They’re working on getting that big message to every home.

“I think we got a lot of publicity. I think people became very aware of the problem but we don’t have the funding to maintain that level of effort,” said Assistant Chief Caudill.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office tells 2 NEWS Investigates they’re aware of the number of fire fatalities in Montgomery County and are monitoring the situation.

They say they tailor their fire prevention and education efforts based on those statistics.

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