BALTIMORE (AP) — Twelve people died in fires in Baltimore in 2012, and city officials say that’s the lowest number of fire fatalities on record.

In 2011, 17 people died in fires. While fatalities can vary widely from year to year, they have declined in each of the past 3 years and have been cut in more than half since 2009.

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The city has pockets of extreme poverty, and fires are common in Baltimore’s aging rowhouses in the winter months.

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Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Fire Chief Jim Clack say their ultimate goal is to eliminate fire deaths altogether.

This year, the city started distributing and installing free smoke alarms with 10-year batteries to people who request them by calling 311. Officials say more than 5,200 alarms have been installed.

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