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Firefighters emphasize smoke alarm safety

Learning the 'sounds' of fire safety
Sounds of fire safety
Posted at 6:48 AM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-06 09:48:53-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — October is fire prevention month and the National Fire Protection Association named this week fire prevention week. The theme is "learning the sounds of fire safety" as fire educators teach the importance of alarms.

From beeps to chirps, smoke alarms can alert people to different emergency situations. According the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments across the United States responded to 1.4 million fires. Every 23 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire. Last year, a home structure fire was reported every 89 seconds, according to the association.

For 23 years, fire inspector and investigator David Arneson has seen these emergencies first hand.

“The common denominator when people are injured in a fire and they don’t get out in time is because they didn’t have a working smoke alarm,” he said.

He and other fire officials said it's crucial to test smoke alarms every month and and change the batteries every year. Each alarm has a different sound for a different alert. If the alarm has a low battery, residents will hear something different than if there is a fire.

“Unfortunately it’s usually at 3 in the morning when you hear that chirp and that’s indicating that you have a low battery," Arneson said.

Whether the smoke is generated from a burned piece of toast or a lit candle, the smoke alarms detect the smoke particles. Once the devices detect the particles, the alarm will go off. Tucson Fire Department's Jimmy Hinrichs said these warnings from the alarms are key to saving lives.

“These smoke alarms detect small particles of smoke that active this alarm with this actives a large audible sound like beep beep beep and that means the occupants need to exit the building safety or exit their home,” he said.

Even before the fire alarms go off, Hinrichs says it's important to pay attention to the flammable items in your home.

"Some of this comes from human error," he said. "Pay attention to your electrical hazards and your stoves. Make sure to not leave your stoves unattended especially if it's a gas stove."

For the deaf and hard of hearing, there are alert devices that can shake a person's pillow, bed or include a strobe light. According to the National Fire Protection Association, it's important to meet the needs of all people living in the homes and it's good practice keep hallways clear so all people can exit safely. Hinrichs said the bottom line is do anything possible to be proactive.

"Before a fire even occurs what can we do to possibly prevent that fire,“ he said.

Throughout this week and month, fire officials are heading into schools and around the community to teach about fire safety. Northwest Fire District set up Safety Stop tables throughout the community equipped with the different smoke alarm sounds. People can come up to the tables with their phones and use the table's QR codes to hear the different alarm sounds.

“We want people to understand what that chirp means and how to avoid it by replacing your battery," Arneson said. “It’s just to spread that message that working smoke detectors save lives.”