This month in Firewatch, Three smoke alarms not operable contribute to fire death, Connecticut

Blog Post created by paulalevesque Employee on Oct 1, 2014

A 34-year-old man died of smoke inhalation in a fire that began when smoking materials that had been carelessly disposed of ignited in a bedroom of his single-family house.  Two other occupants of the house escaped.

The one-story, wood-frame, ranch-style home, which measured 62 feet (19 meters) by 24 feet ( 7 meters), had smoke alarms in the living room, hallway, and basement, but they were not operational.  There were no sprinklers.

A neighbor reported the fire at 5:52 a.m., and firefighters arrived nine minutes later to find flames coming from the roof at the rear of the house.  The two occupants who had escaped from the burning home could not account for the victim, and crews began an offensive attack to initiate a primary search.  Shortly after they did so, however, the incident commander removed them and the roof collapsed into the kitchen and a bedroom.

Once the fire was brought under control, crews reentered the house and found the victim in a bedroom at the end of a hallway just beyond the bedroom in which the fire began.  Investigators determined that the blaze started when carelessly disposed of smoking materials ignited a chair and or some clothing in the room while the house's occupants slept.  The victim's bedroom was located just beyond the room of origin and escape was possible only through a window.  Investigators said delayed detection was a contributing factor in his death.

The home, valued at $245,000, and its contents, valued at $70,000, were destroyed.  One of the survivors, a 62-year-old woman, suffered smoke inhalation injuries.

Fore more Firewatch incidents NFPA Journal. To learn more about smoke alarm safety NFPA's Fire Prevention Week help us sound the alarm that working smoke alarms save lives.