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Fire alarms and smoke detectors can save lives

Staff Report • Jan 31, 2013 at 5:22 PM

We’ve said it many times before in this space, but given what the top official from the Johnson City Fire Department told Press Assistant News Editor Rex Barber in Tuesday’s paper, it bears repeating.

Smoke detectors save lives.

There have been seven fire-related deaths in Johnson City within the last 13 months. Six of those deaths were recorded in homes that lacked smoke detectors.

“That’s your first line of defense to getting out alive is early detection, early notification that there’s a fire,” Fire Chief Mark Scott told Barber. “It’s the cheapest insurance policy you can buy.”

Every home should have at least one smoke detector. And new technology — such as dual sensor smoke alarms that warn of both flame and smoke — has made these essential devices even more effective. Dual sensor alarms use both ionization and photoelectric technologies. An ionization smoke alarm warns of flaming fires, such as a cooking fire. The photoelectric alarm is more responsive to a smoldering fire, such as that from overheated wiring.

Firefighters say having a properly functioning smoke detector in the home more than doubles a person’s chances of surviving a house fire. And a smoke detector that has had its battery drained or removed is of no use in alerting a family to a fire.

Tennessee routinely ranks among the top five states in the nation when it comes to the number of residents killed in house fires. Many of those lives might have been saved by a fully functioning smoke detector. That means a smoke detector should be tested regularly.

There should be a smoke alarm on each level of the house, inside every bedroom and outside the bedrooms in each sleeping area.

If you have a neighbor, friend or relative who is elderly or in poor health, it might be a good idea to check their smoke detectors to make sure they are operating properly. Johnson City residents can also call 975-2840, and a firefighter will come inspect your smoke detector. The city will also install a smoke detector if needed.

Scott said his department has installed more than 200 smoke detectors in the city during the past month.

This is a worthy and effective lifesaving program, and it needs your help. The city is now accepting monetary donations to help pay for its smoke detector installation program. Checks should be written to the Johnson City Fire Department at 603 Bert St. in Johnson City.

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