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Letter: Firefighters Warn New Canaan to Get Smoke Alarms

NEW CANAAN, Conn. - New England and the tri-state area experienced many tragic fires in the last year that resulted in fatalities. These fatal fires did not just take the life of a single person. These were fires with multiple fatalities. In investigating these fires, it was discovered that most of the structures did not have any operable smoke alarms. These situations could have been avoided with education in fire prevention and the installation of smoke alarms.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, more than 1.4 million fires were reported in the United States in 2009. Those fires resulted in 3,320 deaths and 16,705 injuries. The New Canaan Career Firefighters urge all citizens to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. We encourage residents to change the smoke detector batteries when you change your clocks for Daylight Saving Time. The most commonly cause of nonworking smoke alarms is worn or missing batteries. After installing new batteries, it is recommended that you test your smoke alarm. If your alarm system is monitored by a central station, have the system serviced and tested once a year by the alarm company. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire by nearly half.

A working smoke alarm provides early warning and critical extra seconds to escape, which is especially important during nighttime fires. Many people mistakenly believe they will be awakened by the smell of smoke. In reality, smoke disorients people and contributes to more fire deaths than burns.

New Canaan firefighters also recommend that families identify a meeting place and practice getting there through planned escape routes. Remember, once you’re out of a burning building, stay out and only dial 911 from a neighbor’s house or from a cordless phone or cellphone.

Recent tragic fires have prompted the New Canaan Career Firefighters to launch a smoke alarm awareness campaign. Thanks to First Alert, the New Canaan Fire Department received 100 smoke alarms and 50 carbon monoxide detectors. These alarms are available to New Canaan residents. Three smoke alarms and one carbon monoxide alarm will be offered per home. To get them, contact the New Canaan Fire Department at 203-594-3140.

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