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All Places > Safety Source > Blog > 2014 > April

As part of NFPA’s communications team, it’s my job to stay on top of fire safety news and issues. Just about every day as I read through my Google Alerts, I come upon at least one news story that underscores smoke alarms’ life-saving power.

Here are three that were reported in the past week:

  • A man who’d replaced the batteries in his home’s smoke alarms just days earlier safely escaped a fire in his Hazel, KY, home while taking a late afternoon nap.  “I had been in a dead sleep downstairs; I wasn’t going to hear anything. Then those things went off.” According to the local paper, the working smoke alarms likely prevented a tragedy.
  • In South Bend, IN, a couple escaped a home fire with their small child and dog after their smoke alarms sounded at about 11:30pm; the local ABC news affiliate aired the story, “Working smoke alarms save family from fire”. 
  • "Smoke alarm helped limit damage" was the news headline about a home fire in Wiltshire, England, that occurred in the early hours of the morning. Although no one was in the home at the time, a neighbor heard the smoke alarms and contacted the fire department, who rescued a pet rabbit from the ground floor and promptly brought the fire under control.

These are just a few real-life stories that reinforce the real power of working smoke alarms. Take a look at our smoke alarms safety tips for more information on proper installation, testing and maintenance.


!|src=|alt=Read for Fire Safety|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Read for Fire Safety|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a3fcf8464f970b img-responsive!I’ll never forget the day I got my first library card. I was just learning to read and was amazed to find out that with my library card I could bring home all the books I wanted for free. That moment marked the beginning of my love affair with books. It continues to this day.

That’s why I’m thrilled that this month is National School Library Month, a celebration of the essential role that school library programs play in a student’s education. Librarians organize community events introducing parents, students, and the public to all the resources the library has to offer, including books, eBooks, recorded books, databases, and more.


With National School Library Month in mind, now is a great time to visit the Sparky School House website , NFPA’s interactive site that features a free storybook app–Sparky’s Birthday Surprise, and free e-book–Firefighting Heroes and Science Facts. !|src=|alt=Fire Rescue Dogs|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=Fire Rescue Dogs|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a3fcf84892970b img-responsive!Sparky’s Birthday Surprise is a highly engaging interactive storybook app for children 3 to 7.   Firefighting Heroes and Science Facts is written for ages 7 to 10. It addresses Common Core standards for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science and also includes fully aligned curriculum materials for teachers.

Both the e-book and app are designed to teach kids about the importance of fire safety in a fun and engaging way.

!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!NFPA and Sparky want you to read for fire safety

!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Read the March issue of Safety Source, NFPA's public education newsletter


!|src=|alt=CO alarms|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px;|title=CO alarms|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a511a5365d970c img-responsive!A Massachusetts couple and their two young grandchildren are recovering after being taken to the hospital earlier this week with carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. The family got sick after the car was left running in the garage. The car was a newer model with a push button ignition.

According to news reports, B.D. Nayak said he didn’t realize the car was still on. He said, later, while painting, he began to feel dizzy. The children got sick with vomiting and his wife passed out. Their son-in-law called 9-1-1 and discovered the source. Fire officials say the house didn’t have CO alarms.

    • It’s important to install and maintain CO alarms in the home.

    • They should be placed in a central location outside each separate sleeping area, on every level of the home, and in other locations as required by laws, codes, or standards.

    • For the best protection have CO alarms that are interconnected throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.


More safety messages are provided on the carbon monoxide safety information page and safety tips sheet on the NFPA web site.

!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Testing CO alarms is important
!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen at any time


!|src=|alt=SMOKE ALARM BOY|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=SMOKE ALARM BOY|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a73db03a66970d img-responsive!Nine-year-old Hector Montoya, of Texas, really wanted a Playstation 4. He’d been saving up for months to purchase his dream toy.  But then he saw a sad story on the news. A mother and daughter in a nearby town died in a fire. Officials say the home didn’t have a smoke alarm.

CNN quotes Hector as saying, “Saving a life is more important.”

The child, pictured in this photo from CNN, took all of his cash and bought nearly 100 smoke alarms and with the help of the local fire department, installed them for older adults and others who needed them.                            

Hector’s example has made national and international headlines, highlighting for people around the world young and old the importance of smoke alarms.


NFPA’s smoke alarm safety information, safety tips sheet and Sparky School House fire safety music videos , featuring some of the most popular kids’ bands  around are great tools for reminding everyone how to stay safe.

!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!New report finds nearly 2/3 of home fire deaths resulted from homes without working smoke alarms

!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Protect the ones you love; install photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms

BatteriesA fire destroys a home. The owner barely gets out alive. The fire department investigation determines that the fire’s place of origin is a kitchen “junk” drawer. The cause? Nine-volt batteries loose in the drawer. A metal object touched the posts of the batteries, causing a short circuit, which created enough heat to start a fire.

These types of fires have made headlines in Colorado, New Hampshire, Kansas, and other places. Some homeowners, like the one pictured below, have launched their own public awareness campaigns, posting video warnings online.

9-Volt-Battery3 (2)

NFPA’s 9-volt battery safety tip sheet warns that it is unsafe to store 9-volt batteries in a drawer near paper clips, pens, coins, or other batteries. This goes for all 9-volt batteries, whether they are recently purchased or have only a weak charge left in them.

Common household items such as steel wool, aluminum foil, and keys should not be stored near 9-volt batteries. If these items touch the two posts, there is a greater risk of a fire starting.  

Batteries should be kept in original packaging until ready for use. If loose, keep posts covered with masking, duct, or electrical tape.

Whether we’re changing the batteries on our smoke alarms that use 9-volt batteries or using the batteries for other purposes, it’s important to follow these and the additional precautions the tip sheet provides.

You can read more about 9-volt battery safety and all of our safety tip sheets on the NFPA web site.


     !|border=0|src=|alt=Chambersburg Fire Winner Cropped|title=Chambersburg Fire Winner Cropped|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a3fce379ed970b image-full img-responsive!


<span style="font-size: 10pt;">Chambersburg Fire Department Assistant Chief Butch Leonhard, Captain Jackie Umberger and Fire Chief William FitzGerald</span>


Officials from the Chambersburg Fire Department, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, recently celebrated receiving their plaque for the 2014 Rolf H. Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant. The plaque honors the department for its dedication to fire and life safety education through the program, “The Smoke Alarm is Sounding: Know What to Do.” Along with the individual plaque, the department’s name is inscribed on the grant winners’ plaque displayed at NFPA headquarters. The department also received $5,000 to implement the program, which includes education on fire escape planning and installation of smoke alarms.


The 2015 application has been posted. The deadline is February 6, 2015. The grant committee encourages applications from new and previous candidates.


!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Grant recipient to teach prompt response to smoke alarms

!|src=|alt=|style=margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; width: 80px; display: block; max-width: 100%;!Rolf Jensen Grant recipient announces award at news conference

Smoke AlarmThree out of five home fire deaths in 2007-2011 resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms, according to a newly released report, “Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires.” The report examines the number of reported fires in U.S. households with and without working smoke alarms, as well as the effectiveness of smoke alarms in preventing fire-related deaths.

Working smoke alarms in homes are key to saving lives from fire since you may have as little as three minutes to get out before a fire becomes deadly. The early warning provided by smoke alarms gives you critical time to escape safely. Install smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds, they all sound.

Take a few minutes to view the video below on smoke alarm safety tips, and visit our website for key report findings and safety recommendations to help keep your family safe. 

  Foxborough Fire at Pavilion
Imagine spending months planning a beautiful wedding ceremony only to have the building go up in flames as you exchange your vows. That’s what happened to a bride and groom in Foxborough, Massachusetts, last week. According to the Boston Globe, as the couple said “I do,” guests in the historic pavilion where the ceremony was taking place saw smoke.

Fire officials said “careless disposal of smoking materials” sparked the three-alarm blaze that destroyed the community landmark. A cigarette butt tossed onto dry mulch ignited the fire.

NFPA’s tip sheet on smoking and home fire safety offers the following reminders:

  • Do not discard cigarettes in vegetation such as mulch, potted plants or landscaping, peat moss, dried grasses, leaves or other things that could ignite easily.
  • Before you throw away butts and ashes, make sure they are out, dousing in water or sand is the best way to do that.

You can read more about smoking safety and review all of the safety tip sheets on the NFPA web site.

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