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Fire officials from across Massachusetts made a public plea Friday for residents to check their smoke alarms after a recent spike in fatal fires in homes lacking working devices.
The Boston Globe reports that Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey stated that 19 people have died in residential fires since January 1 and in nearly 60 percent of those blazes, the home involved had no functioning smoke alarms. He also stated that nine people died in house fires in December.
“We’ve seen batteries sitting on top of the smoke alarm on a shelf, and the empty place or a bracket on the ceiling of a home where the smoke alarm used to be,” Ostroskey said during a news conference at Lynn Fire Department headquarters. “It is heartbreaking to me and to these fire officials gathered here this morning to know that so many people could have survived whatever fire struck their home, if they had had early warning of the danger, if they had had working smoke alarms,” he said.
NFPA’s Educational Messages Desk Reference provides a chapter on smoke alarms–reference material that fire department public educators and other safety advocates can use to present standardized safety information to the public.
- Smoke alarms should be installed in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement.
- Test smoke alarms once a month using the test button.
- Smoke alarms with nonreplaceable (long-life) batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
- For smoke alarms that don’t have nonreplaceable (long-life) batteries, replace batteries at least once a year. If the alarm chirps, replace only the battery.
- Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
The Desk Reference provides additional messaging on smoke alarms and a number of other fire and life safety concerns. In addition, Smoke Alarm Central and NFPA’s community toolkit on smoke alarms provide material to help motivate residents to install and maintain smoke alarms in the home.
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