A recent article in the Washington Post described a situation in which teachers were noticing the “chirping” sounds of smoke alarms in their students homes during virtual classes. As the article notes, “And while the teachers heard it, the parents and students at the homes seemed so accustomed to the incessant noise that they didn’t notice it.” That prompted the principal of a Washington D.C. elementary school to call his local Fire Department, as did numerous leaders of other schools.
The response from Tony Falwell, Fire Marshal and Deputy Chief of the D.C. fire department was one of action. “As soon as you hear it, you need to address it,” Falwell said in an interview. “Because if you continue to ignore it, it just becomes background noise.” Staff from his department began a campaign working with the schools and Parent-Teacher organizations to promote smoke alarm education to the families through the virtual learning platforms used for classroom-based education. The campaign includes installation of smoke alarms in homes of families who cannot afford to buy them. They even came up with a catchy slogan “When you hear the chirp - it’s time do the work.”
Fire and life safety education happens at all levels, and at all times, day or night. What started out as addressing a distraction during remote learning, created a life-saving opportunity for families. This October, as you “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen” as part of your Fire Prevention Week efforts, make sure to include smoke alarms in your fire safety plan.
Download NFPA’s Smoke Alarm Tip Sheet and NFPA’s Smoke alarms for deaf and hard of hearing people tip sheet to make sure you know what to do in your home. And like they say in D.C., “When you hear the chirp – it’s time to do the work!”