The importance of smoke detectors

The importance of smoke detectors

It is amazing how people continue to die in fires in their own homes. In 2018, 74 percent of the nation’s fire fatalities occurred in the home, thus accounting for 2,720 deaths.

Locally, this statistic continues without any attention beyond the initial incident where a reporter will invariably state “the fire is under investigation,” which is meaningless as we will never know the results. More importantly, no one will ask or mention the value of working smoke detectors in the report. Smoke detectors have been on the market for more than 30 years.

Within the last week, two more fatalities have occurred with a residential fire in Woonsocket and then in Fall River. Again, the story ends without a mention of how preventable this result is. Working smoke detectors have an exceedingly high success rate for making the exit of persons from a structure where a fire has begun as simple as walking out the front door (and perhaps extinguishing the fire on the way out).

But short of the annual sign on a fire station during Fire Prevention Week, that no one will pay any attention to, the fire services continues to be silent regarding this simple act of life-loss prevention. Rarely do I see a fire official interviewed let alone speaking about smoke detectors at the scene of the latest incident. I see fire engines in traffic with flags, call 911 stickers, Sept. 11 stickers, and memorials for the Worcester 6 ... nothing about smoke detectors. This is the perfect “bully pulpit.”

As it is true people will continue to be errant with smoking materials (especially) and other neglects resulting in uncontrolled fires, the “drum” must be continually beaten by the fire services and the media at every opportunity about how these fatalities can be prevented. The presence of working smoke detectors increases the survivability rate by at least 50 percent.

If the fire services are serious about their profession, the members should be out in front continually promoting the installation and maintenance of working smoke detectors and should the media miss an opportunity to ask about this technology at the next incident, they too are responsible for not making this vital promotion.

Michael Mulligan