As a result of the tragic house fire on Farrara Drive in the Odenton/Gambrills area Sunday, July 1, 2012, members of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department will be going door to door this Wednesday, July 4, 2012 to remind residents to check their smoke detectors. Beginning at approximately 10:00 a.m. in the section of the Chapelgate Community where a resident was killed, firefighters will assist citizens with changing their batteries and testing smoke alarms. Residents, whose homes are found to be without a smoke alarm, will have one installed by firefighters.
Firefighters are taking this aggressive action based on the preliminary results of the investigation into Sunday’s tragic fire; where it was discovered that the home did not have any operable smoke alarms. County Fire Chief John Robert Ray stated that “early detection is key in all residential fires and that fires can burn unnoticed and spread quickly where smoke alarms are not present or functional.” The most common cause of non-working smoke alarms are worn or missing batteries. In fact, the U.S. Fire Administration reports that the majority of U.S. fire deaths occur in homes where smoke alarms are not working due to worn or missing batteries.
Smoke alarms have a mechanical life span of 10 years; any smoke detector over 10 years old should be replaced. Many smoke alarms ten years of age or older have no battery back-up, any smoke alarm without a battery back-up should also be replaced. Smoke alarms that use a centralized battery, integrated into a security system, generally have a battery life expectancy of 3-5 years; check the manufacturer’s recommendations. County Executive John R. Leopold has asked that “all County residents test their smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year when you ‘change your clocks, change your batteries.’ Residents who can not afford smoke alarms should contact the County Fire Department’s Public Fire Safety and Injury Prevention Office at 410-222-8303 for assistance.”