Fatalities last topped 100 in 1989, Ayers said. The city's records date to the early 1950s.
Ayers attributed the turnaround to improvements in the way buildings are made - including the required use of smoke alarms - enforcement of fire codes, and fire-prevention education.
The Fire Department suffered one on-duty casualty in 2013: Capt. Michael Goodwin, 53, died in April battling a blaze in Queen Village. His death is recorded separately from those of the 24 civilians.
Of the 24 deaths, six resulted from fires caused by electrical wiring.
Six people died in fires started by lit cigarettes.
Four died in fires started by cooking, two by portable electric heaters, one by a portable kerosene heater, and one by an open flame. Causes were undetermined for the remaining four fires that resulted in deaths.
The city saw an increase in fire-related injuries, but those also include activities such as cooking burns and workplace accidents.
In 2008, Ayers implemented a sustained fire-prevention program that has resulted in the Fire Department's installing in 4,628 residences a total of 7,417 smoke alarms powered by 10-year lithium batteries.
There was some initial resistance in the department to having firefighters go door to door for education and the installation of fire alarms.
"Now they love it," Ayers said. The program is a way to "put the fire out before it starts."
The department has a fire-prevention app that can be accessed by smartphone at www.freedomfromfire.com/fsapp-info/.