Increasing focus on prevention reduced the number of fires in the West Midlands by a third last year.
The policy also proved to be a life-saver, with 12 recorded fatalities in 2004/05 compared with 15 the previous year.
The West Midlands Chief Fire Officer, Frank Sheehan, hailed the dramatic improvements as the result of increasing focus on fire prevention work by officers.
The figures are in the latest Fire Service Authority performance report which is being presented to its executive committee today. It shows that during 2004/05, there were 21,841 fires - nearly 11,000 fewer than the previous year.
Over the past couple of years, the available time firefighters spend on prevention has increased from two per cent to 20 per cent, and that, said Mr Sheehan, had paid dividends in terms of public safety.
Last June, firefighters instigated new home fire-risk assessments, in which they visit people in their own homes to give advice and fit free smoke alarms, and have completed a total of 10,700 in the region since then.
"I'm extremely happy because there are some dramatic results overall - reduction in fires and in fire deaths," said Mr Sheehan.
"Next year we are aiming for single figures and I want to get even more time dedicated to fire prevention." Since last year, the fire service particularly targeted high-risk areas, he said.
These tended to be areas of high deprivation where police and social services were also active. These agencies, along with health visitors and hospitals, worked on behalf of the fire service to highlight fire risks in the home.
"In the aftermath of a serious fire at a house, we will knock on doors and say, 'they have had a fire, do you want to have a detector?' and ask if we can make an appointment to speak to them about fire safety," explained Mr Sheehan.
Firefighters have taken theatre performances to schools in deprived areas, focusing in a very realistic way about the consequences of arson, and of driving dangerously at excessive speeds.
Another imaginative initiative has seen firefighters mentoring disaffected youngsters aged between 10-16.
"The fire service is a local government service which is still associated with high esteem," said Mr Sheehan.
"They are highly performing and the public respects them. We have capitalised on this to give disaffected youngsters a different view on the world, and it seems to be a strategy that is working."
An area that is becoming an increasing problem to West Midlands Fire Service is unnecessary call-outs due to automatic fire- alarms, accounting for 12,832 call-outs between 2004/05, an increase of nearly 1,000 on last year.
These frequently involve institutions containing large number of vulnerable people where, when a fire alarm is activated, an alert goes out directly to a call centre.
These include sheltered housing developments, hospitals and universities, but an increasing number of large businesses also have the facility.
Even if, on further investigation, the cause is not thought to be serious, crews will still go out to be 100 per cent sure the situation is safe.
Mr Sheehan added: "There is plenty for the fire service to aim for next year."