Pa. fire deaths have in­creased; work­ing smoke alarms save lives

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Obituaries -

Ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by the U.S. Fire Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Penn­syl­va­nia is cur­rent­lylead­ing the na­tion in fire deaths, de­spite rank­ing only fifth in pop­u­la­tion. As of July 11,there have been 91 deaths in the state, with two oc­cur­ring in the larger Pitts­burgh area since June 27 (Co­raopo­lis and Meadville). This is a dra­matic and dis­turb­ing in­crease over 2017, which saw a to­tal of 112 fire deaths in Penn­syl­va­nia across the en­tire year. Sim­ply put, 2018 has been full of tragedyon a much greater scale.

There are many po­ten­tial fac­tors in fires and fire deaths, but one of the most com­mon fac­tors is a lack of work­ing smoke alarms. Fire de­part­ments, in­spec­tors and other ex­perts have long preached that smoke alarms are the most im­por­tant ap­pli­ances that can be found in one’s home, and the truth is that the pres­ence of a work­ing smoke alarm will, of­ten, save lives. Fa­tal fires — es­pe­cial­lyin pri­vate res­i­dences — can of­ten be traced back to a lack of work­ing alarms.

Fire­fight­ers fre­quently en­counter homes with in­stalled yet in­op­er­a­tive smoke alarms. There are sev­eral rea­sons for this, but the most com­mon is sim­ply be­cause res­i­dents for­get to change the bat­ter­ies reg­u­larly. No­body should face tragedy and death be­cause he or she did not re­mem­ber to re­place a sim­ple bat­tery.

For­tu­nately, there is a so­lu­tion. Smoke alarms with sealed-in, non­re­move­able bat­ter­ies ca­pa­ble of last­ing for 10 years are widely avail­able from dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers and are a proven, tested tech­nol­ogy. These alarms are ef­fec­tively im­pos­si­ble to dis­able and require vir­tu­ally no main­te­nance­dur­ing their life spans. Put sim­ply, they are much less likely to leave a home de­fense­less than older alarms with re­move­able bat­ter­ies. This 10year tech­nol­ogy should be the stan­dard for all bat­tery-pow­eredsmoke alarms.

The num­bers do not lie: Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Fire Pro­tec­tion As­so­ci­a­tion, three of every five home fire deaths oc­cur in a home with­out smoke alarms or work­ing smoke alarms. Work­ing smoke alarms are crit­i­cal in stem­ming the tide of fire deaths in Penn­syl­va­nia, both this year and in the fu­ture. All res­i­dents, land­lords and any­body who main­tains a home in Penn­syl­va­nia should en­sure their smoke alarms are in proper work­ing or­der and, if pos­si­ble, should opt for 10-year alarms with sealed-in bat­ter­ies.

DON KONKLE Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Penn­syl­va­nia Fire & Emer­gency Ser­vices In­sti­tute


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