National Fire Prevention Week Centers on Smoke Alarm Upkeep
It's National Fire Prevention week. The annual series of safety education events commemorates the great Chicago fire of 1871. In Massachusetts this year officials say they have responded to fires earlier than usual. That's because there was so little snowfall in 2012.
Massachusetts Fire Marshall Stephen Coan says the theme of this year's fire prevention week is household smoke alarm maintenance. He says that includes replacing detectors after their ten-year life span.
"Our smoke alarms are our best opportunity for early warning. To provide that critical time to escape our homes in the case of fire."
He says it's common for people to disable their detectors after they're set off by what he calls "nuisance smoke" -- like burning popcorn or scorched toast. But Coan says a lot of times, the batteries get lost in the shuffle.
"I've responded to many very tragic fires instances...many of them that involve fatalities. And it's very sad to look at the ceiling and know where there should be a smoke detector and not to find one. Or to find the smoke detector with wires and no battery present."
Coan recommends each household in the commonwealth develop its own fire safety plan. He says that includes mapping out two exit routes and designating a safe post-escape meeting place.