Over the last month-and-a-half, state officials say nearly two dozen people have escaped serious injury or death in a fire because of a working smoke detector. State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds says those lives saved by smoke alarms is more than double the lives lost in Iowa fires so far this year. “We have nine fire fatalities in Iowa (in 2010) and while every fatality is tragic, we are pleased to announce that we have 22 lives saved as a result of working smoke detectors throughout Iowa,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds spoke Tuesday at a press conference held at the Clive Fire Department – which has been tracking lives saved by smoke detectors for several years. He said each of the 22 Iowans who’ve escaped fires because of smoke alarms also avoided injury. “In a number of those cases, the house was totally engulfed and severely damaged,” Reynolds said. “So, the early warning you get from (a smoke detector) is important.”
Reynolds is encouraging all Iowans to make sure they have a working smoke detector in their home. “If you don’t have one, call your fire department and we will get you one in the near future,” Reynolds said. After taking office on March 19, Reynolds said one of his first decisions was to start counting lives saved in fires – rather than just lives lost. “Whether it’s seat belts, child restraints or lives saved by smoke detectors – the important message here is we need to start keeping statistics on positive things and show we’re doing things right,” Reynolds said.
The National Fire Protection Association claims around one-third of American homes are not adequately protected with smoke detectors. In many cases, homes have a smoke detector but the battery is disconnected or is dead. Reynolds says smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years, while the batteries should be replaced once a year.
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