This past Saturday, a tragic fire swept through a Brooklyn, NY, home, killing seven siblings ages five to 16. Their mother and 15-year-old sister escaped by jumping from a second-floor window; both are in critical condition after suffering burns and smoke inhalation. The fire started when a hotplate in the kitchen malfunctioned.
According to FDNY firefighters, the home did not have working smoke alarms on the first floor where the fire started just after midnight, nor the second floor where the family was sleeping. By the time the mother awoke, she was unable to get to her children.
“The mother would have had to go into the fire to get to the back bedrooms, so I think she tried, although badly burned, to get out and get help for her children”, said FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “She was very brave.”
The details of this incident are simply heart-wrenching. Like many other deadly home fires that occur in the U.S. each year, a common thread remains: the smoke alarms are missing or not working.
For all of us who work in the world of fire safety, the importance of smoke alarms is well understood. This incident underscores the fact that we still have a lot more to do in educating the public about their life-saving value.
The FDNY clearly recognized this as well, distributing pamphlets about smoke alarms, along with cooking safety tips, on Saturday afternoon in the Brooklyn neighborhood where the fire occurred.