MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The city of Memphis has recorded the fewest fire deaths in 50 years.
The Memphis Fire Department told The Commercial Appeal that seven people died in 2013 structure fires. It is the fewest number since 1964, the earliest year for which records are available.
It also marked a big drop from 2012, when 16 fire deaths were recorded. The city recorded its highest number of deaths in 1988 with 41. The previous low number was nine, which happened in 2002 and 2004.
Fire department director Alvin Benson credits much of the decline to education efforts.
"I think it speaks to the success of our smoke detection installation program. We go out and install some detectors and batteries. ... We targeted specific communities to see what we could do to try and keep those risks down," Benson said. "Putting fire safety in the consciousness of the people in the community has played a role."
He also said luck plays a part.
"Sometimes fire fatalities can be random. Good fortune plays a part, in addition to all the other reasons," he said.