Illinois State Fire Marshall urges family involvement for fire safety during Fire Prevention Week

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

                     This year’s National Fire Prevention

                     Campaign Week is October 9-15, and the Office of the

                     State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is urging families to take

                     time to follow important steps in fire safety. In its

                     mission to educate residents across Illinois on fire

                     safety, OSFM is focusing on how to use simple

                     strategies to prevent tragedies caused by fires. This

                     year’s theme focuses on the importance of having a

                     family escape plan in the event of a fire emergency.

                     “Families must discuss what to do in case of a fire

                     alert, and develop a fire escape plan in case a fire

                     alarm goes off in the middle of the night or at any

                     time”, said Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry

                     Matkaitis. “Working smoke detectors have been a vital

                     element in saving lives; they serve as the most

                     immediate warning to act promptly.”

                     According to the National Fire Protection Association

                     (NFPA), fire departments across the country responded

                     to 1,331,500 fires in 2010. Out of those figures,

                     384,000 were residential fires, an increase of 1.9%

                     from the previous year. These fires resulted in

                     approximately 13,350 civilian injuries and 2,640

                     civilian deaths. Considering the alarming numbers,

                     OSFM believes that education and fire prevention

                     awareness can help decrease those statistics if the

                     following recommendations are followed:

                     Installation

                     • At least one smoke alarm should be located on every

                     level of the home, including the basement, as well as

                     in every sleeping room and within 15 feet outside

                     each sleeping area.

                     • NFPA strongly recommends either installing

                     combination smoke alarms, or both ionization and

                     photoelectric alarms, in the home. An ionization

                     alarm is typically more responsive to a flaming fire,

                     such as a pan fire. A photoelectric alarm is

                     typically more responsive to a smoldering fire, as

                     might occur where a lighted cigarette is dropped on a

                     sofa. Combination smoke alarms have ionization and

                     photoelectric capabilities.

                     • Whatever type of smoke alarms you choose, they

                     should carry the label of a recognized testing

                     laboratory.

                     • Interconnected smoke alarms offer the best

                     protection; when one sounds, they all do. This is

                     particularly important in larger or multi-story

                     homes, where the sound from distant smoke alarms may

                     be reduced to the point that it may not be loud

                     enough to provide proper warning, especially for

                     sleeping individuals.

                     • A licensed electrician can install either

                     hard-wired multiple-station alarms, or wireless

                     alarms, which manufacturers have more recently begun

                     producing. An electrician can also replace existing

                     hard-wired smoke alarms with wireless interconnection

                     capabilities.

                     Maintenance and Testing

                     • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the

                     test button, and make sure everyone in your home

                     knows their sound.

                     • If an alarm “chirps,” warning the battery is low,

                     replace the battery right away.

                     • Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use

                     10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they’re

                     10 years old (or sooner) if they do not respond

                     properly when tested.

                     • Change the batteries on smoke alarms at least twice

                     a year. Two occasions that can serve as a reminder

                     twice a year is “Change your Clock, Change your

                     Batteries.”

                     For more information about fire safety, please visit

                     OSFM’s website at www.sfm.illinois.gov.