ShareThis Page

Fire safety important as ever

| Saturday, Oct. 9, 2004

MONESSEN - A national campaign in the mid-1980s to encourage homeowners to install smoke alarms was successful, Municipal Fire Chief Tim Billick said.

Most homeowners installed smoke alarms and fatal fires declined as a result.

But 20 years later, many of the alarms have become too old to be effective. In other homes, dead batteries have rendered alarms useless.

Thus as National Fire Prevention Safety Week winds down, Billick is reminding homeowners that it is vital to again commit to install - and maintain - fire alarms in their homes. This is the perfect time, Billick said, to test fire alarms.

When inspecting fire alarms, homeowners should follow the following checklist:

  • Do you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home?

  • Is an alarm in or outside every place people sleep?

  • Do you test your smoke alarms once a month?

  • Do you know the sound of your alarms and are they loud enough to wake you?

    To ensure safety, the answer to each questions should be "yes."

    In Austin, Texas, a national "Put a Finger on It" fire safety education campaign was launched after fatal fires increased, Billick noted.

    A Fire Fatality Task Force in Austin studied each fatal fire in the city and found a lack of smoke alarms in the homes in which fatal blazes occurred.

    The Austin Fire Department created Freddy the Finger, a cartoon fire alarm that became the centerpiece of an education program designed to remind homeowners to test their fire alarms monthly.

    The trend of increased fatal fires has been reduced as a result of the educational program, Billick said. It's a message that area residents can take to heart, he said.

    "We want to protect people," Billick said. "Everyone can have a fire alarm, but unless they work, they're useless pieces of plastic. It drives us crazy to walk into a house fire and see smoke alarms with no batteries in them."

    New state uniform construction codes require smoke alarms in all bedrooms, Billick said.

    Billick said Monessen has been lucky because - unlike Austin - it has not experienced any fatal fires.

    "We're trying to warn people ahead of time so it won't happen here," Billick said.

  • TribLIVE commenting policy

    You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

    We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

    While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

    We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

    We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

    We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

    We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

    We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

    click me