COLUMBIA — The Columbia Fire Department has partnered with the Columbia Professional Fire Fighters Local 1055 to provide free smoke alarms to Columbia residents, according to a fire department news release.
The fire department has publicized concern about working smoke detectors. The two structure fires responded to in the past two weeks were at buildings without smoke detectors or with detectors that didn't work.
It's part of a broader pattern, according to the release. In a review of department records starting in January, “over half of the home fires reported in Columbia this year have occurred in homes with either nonworking smoke alarms or no alarms installed at all.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association:
- 65 percent of reported home fire deaths occurred in homes with no smoke alarms or nonworking ones.
- 73 percent of alarms that fail to operate in a fire are because of faulty batteries or wiring.
- The amount of time it takes to get out of a fire safely can be as little as three minutes, and it is important that a working smoke alarm be present to provide early warning, especially at night or while you are sleeping.
- The risk of death in a fire is reduced by 50 percent with a properly working smoke alarm.
To take advantage of the free smoke detector offer, go to the Fire Marshal's Division at 201 Orr St. or call the Columbia Professional Fire Fighters Local 1055 at 823-6942.
The fire department cautioned homeowners who already have smoke alarms installed of the following guidelines to make sure that they are in operational condition:
- Batteries should be replaced annually.
- Smoke alarms should be tested monthly.
- Alarms should be replaced every 10 years, regardless of functionality or condition.
- Plan and practice a family fire escape plan so you’re prepared should your smoke alarm sound.
- Most “hard-wired” smoke alarms still have batteries as a back-up during power failures.