Smoke Alarms Save Lives

February 12, 2015 03:28 PM
Smoke Alarms Save Lives in Multiple Fires

Galesburg Fire Department

Within the span of about 6 weeks, smoke alarms have activated at fires in 3 Galesburg homes, each time likely preventing injury or death to the resident families.  "In every case, family members were home and were alerted to the fire by the smoke alarm," says Fire Marshal Dan Foley of the Galesburg Fire Department.  While the causes, types of detectors, and circumstances varied, these life-saving devices did exactly what they are designed to do – alert occupants so they can get quickly out of the building.  No one was injured in any of the fires.

  1. Wednesday, February 11 - there was a house fire at 1290 Day in a clothes dryer.  The occupant reports routine cleaning of the lint filter, but when they installed their dryer 3 years ago, they used the existing vent.  At the time of the fire, the vent was entirely blocked by lint that had built up over several years.  As the heat had no place to escape, it built up until the clothes caught on fire.  The tenants were sleeping and woke to the sound of the basement smoke alarm, an alarm required by state law.  This device happened to come through a smoke detector grant program that was administered by the Galesburg Fire Department. This 2010 Fire and Safety Grant enabled GFD to distribute over 3300 detectors, with 10 year lithium batteries, to home owners and landlords in Galesburg.
  2. On February 2, a smoke alarm alerted a family to a stovetop grease fire in an apartment at 279 Michigan Avenue.  The family was able to quickly escape the smoke and call the Fire Department.  Even though the kitchen suffered fire and smoke damage, firefighters were able to stop the fire from spreading to other rooms in the apartment and salvage most of the family’s personal belongings.
  3. December 30, a family at 1451 East Losey Street was sleeping when they heard smoke alarms     sounding due to an electric heater that caused a fire.  Being newer, it had hard-wired interconnected smoke alarms, so when one alarm detected the fire, they all went off.  The family got out immediately.  The fire was contained to the heater and outlet.

The safest homes are those with interconnected smoke alarms with a fire sprinkler system.  Both have become simpler to install with wireless interconnected smoke alarms and sprinkler systems utilizing plastic pipe and your existing water system.  But as seen in these recent fires, state-required smoke alarms are an essential element of a home fire safety system.

"Preventing the fire in the first place through safe behaviors is best.  But when that fails, we all need a smoke detector to quickly notify us of a fire," Fire Marshal Foley says.  The Galesburg Fire Department urges everyone to check that all their smoke alarms are working before they go to sleep tonight.  State law requires smoke alarms on all levels of the house including the basement (excluding unoccupied attics).  City adopted code adds smoke alarms in every bedroom in apartment buildings.

Contact: Dan Foley, Fire Marshal

P: 309/345-3757




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