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Smoke Detectors

February 14, 2011

Everybody knows this, and it’s not something you’ve not already heard from fire service professionals nation-wide:  smoke detectors can save your family’s lives.  Now think about the reverse of that, and it’s even more sobering:  not having smoke detectors could cost your family’s lives.

Not exactly headline news is it?

Yet we continue to run into households with no smoke detectors.  In one case we were investigating deaths and removing remains.  We hate that!

Last month a man was up at some odd hour and noticed the house across the street on fire.  He woke the family up.  Our investigators found all but one smoke detector removed.  The one detector left in place had no battery.  If the neighbor had not been awake, we might have been processing even more fatalities.  Obviously this family was displaced while their home was repaired.  The rental home they moved to temporarily?  It had no smoke detectors either.  We furnished smoke detectors for them.

One week later we fought a house fire that luckily had smoke detectors and the family was alerted.  While we finished fighting the fire, the occupants went to the neighbor’s house to get out of the cold.  While interviewing the family at the next-door neighbor’s house, our investigator noted that the neighbor’s house had no smoke detectors.

U.S. Fire Administration figures (2006) indicate a fifty percent reduction in fire fatalities since smoke detectors were introduced.  Now follow the math here for a minute.  USFA figures that today, 90% of homes in America have smoke detectors.  That’s not too bad.  However in homes where structure fire fatalities occurred, only 58% had smoke detectors.  Of those, 37% had no working battery.  That equates to no working smoke detector 63% of the time when a fatality occurs.

So here is the question to ponder:  does your home have smoke detectors and are they working?  If the answer is ‘no’, you need to consider the demographic your family occupies.  And then you need to get it fixed.  Please!

If you have questions about smoke detectors, give us a call at 509-466-4602, or e-mail me at, or you can leave a question or comment right here on this blog.


U. S. Fire Administration.  (2006, December 28).  Children and smoke alarms (detectors).  Retrieved February 8, 2011 from


From → Preparedness

One Comment
  1. Wendy Woodard permalink

    My Family and I had a fire in our home back in 2001, sadly not one of our hard wired smoke alarms worked. We had only lived in the house 6 weeks and had not had time to test them. We lived in Military housing and trusted that they worked, that was a mistake!
    Make sure you test your smoke detectors annually and if they are battery operated make sure you change the batteries as required. Its up to you to make sure they work once you install or move into a new home.
    Thank God for the dog next door waking his family… the dog saved our lives!
    Don’t take any chances when it comes to the safety of you and the family, be smart and do the simple task of checking your smoke alarms regularly… maybe on the first of each month just like the city checking the emergency systems. It takes only a few minutes and it could save a life!
    P.S. Now we have a smoke detector in every living space in our house and change the batteries every 6 months and we know they work because they are very sensitive and will go off for the smallest amount of smoke…The one just out side the kitchen seems to know when we cook bacon and gives us a little test report.
    Its such a simple install and in the end it could save a life… YOURS!

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