The fire awareness topic for February is Smoke Alarms. Grand Forks Fire rescue sent us this report on the importance of  locations and maintenance of these life saving devices.

SMOKE ALARMS

Are there smoke alarms installed in all your home’s bedrooms? If the answer is “no,” then your home does not meet the updated requirements for smoke alarm installation. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside all sleeping areas, and on every level of the home, including the basement.

“Some homes in Grand Forks may still only have a smoke alarm near sleeping areas,” says Deputy Chief Piché of Grand Forks Fire/Rescue. “We want all residents to understand that national codes require smoke alarms in all bedrooms, not just near them.”

Piché says smoke alarms can mean the difference between life and death in a fire. According to the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire in half. Meanwhile, roughly two-thirds of all home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

In accordance with NFPA, Grand Forks Fire/Rescue recommends installing either smoke alarms, or combination smoke/co alarms in bedrooms, as well as throughout the home. Whatever type of smoke alarms you choose, make sure they are listed by a qualified testing laboratory.

Deputy Chief Piché says that interconnected smoke alarms offer the best protection; when one sounds, they all do. A licensed electrician can install hard-wired multiple-station alarms, or homeowners can install wireless alarms, which manufacturers have more recently begun producing. This is particularly important in larger or multi-story homes, where the sound from distant smoke alarms may be reduced to the point that it may not be loud enough to provide proper warning, especially for sleeping individuals.

“Smoke alarms detect and alert people to fire in its early stages, giving people the time needed to escape safely,” says Piché. “That’s why it’s so important for every home to have them in all required locations, including bedrooms.”

Grand Forks Fire/Rescue offers the following tips for making sure the smoke alarms in your home are maintained and working properly:
Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home.
Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button, and make sure everyone in your home knows their sound.
Change the batteries once a year or If an alarm “chirps,” warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are ten years old or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.

Grand Forks residents with questions and/or concerns about the updated smoke alarm requirements may contact Deputy chief Piché Grand Forks at 250-442-3612 or rpiche@grandforks.ca. They can also visit NFPA’s Web site at www.nfpa.org/smokealarms for more information.