Williamson Fire Department stresses importance of smoke alarms

Rachel Baldwin rbaldwin@civitasmedia.com

December 18, 2013

Rachel Baldwin


WILLIAMSON - The safety of the public has always been a top concern and priority for the members of the Williamson Fire Department, and that trend continues as the efforts to make sure all homes are equipped with a smoke alarm kicks into full swing.

The annual “Great Smoke Alarm Giveaway,” sponsored by the WFD, is now underway. Since the program began in 2003, an estimated 400 of the lifesaving devices have been given away free to the public, thanks to the generosity of individuals who provided them to the WFD.

A new feature of the program is free installation of the smoke alarm and, if requested by the occupant, a no-cost, n- obligation home fire safety inspection will also be performed. Firefighters are trained to discover hidden threats that may be lurking in the home that the occupant may not be aware of. Items such as overloaded electrical circuits, improper use of extension cords, combustible items stored too close to heat sources, obsolete and outdated smoke alarms, etc., can prove to be very dangerous and often are the cause of home fires.

During a recent inspection of an elderly homeowner’s residence, firefighters discovered excessive use of electrical power strips. When this was brought to the resident’s attention, she was very relieved and appreciative that the firefighters discovered the hazard.

The WFD recommends that smoke alarms be installed in every bedroom, in the hallway leading to the bedrooms, in the kitchen at least 10 feet away from the cook stove, on each level or floor of the home, in the garage and anywhere a fuel-burning heating or cooking source is located, or combustible items are being stored. For newly constructed homes, the fire department recommends installing hard-wired smoke alarms with battery backup.

State law requires that an operational smoke detector be installed in the immediate vicinity of each sleeping area within all one- and two-family dwellings, including any “manufactured home.” The smoke detector should be capable of sensing visible or invisible particles of combustion. When activated, the smoke detector should provide an alarm suitable to warn the occupants of the danger of fire.

A recent five-year study conducted by the National Fire Protection Association, reports the following interesting facts:

One in every 310 households per year had a reported home fire. Each year they caused an average of 2,650 deaths, 12,890 injuries, and $7.1 billion in direct property damage. On average, seven people died in U.S. home fires every day. More than one-third (38 percent) of home fire deaths resulted from fires in which no smoke alarms were present at all. One-quarter (24 percent) of the deaths were caused by fires in properties in which smoke alarms were present but failed to operate. People 55 or older were more likely to have smoke alarms that were more than 10 years old.

When a smoke alarm is purchased, it is recommended that the purchaser take a marking pen and write the date it was placed in use on the inside. And, of course, replace the battery at least every year, but preferably every six months.

If you are unsure how many to buy, call the fire department and they will even come to your house and install them free of charge.

The fire department also recommends installing carbon monoxide detectors in all existing one- and two-family dwellings which have fuel-burning heating or cooking sources. One- and two-family dwellings rented or leased are required by law to have CO detectors.

Due to the limited number, the free smoke alarms are available only to residents who live within the Williamson Fire Department fire protection district. However, for needy residents living in other communities, the Mingo County Commission is joining forces with the Mingo County Fire Chief’s Association to provide free smoke alarms for qualifying households throughout the county. They are on order and will be distributed to the county fire departments when they arrive.

Stop by the fire department or call 304-235-5273 to find out if you qualify for a free smoke alarm.