The Office of the State Fire Marshal's Upper Eastern Regional Office reported to a house fire around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 26. The massive 2-alarm fire took almost three hours to extinguish and utilized 75 firefighters, including those from the primary responding department, Trappe Volunteer Fire Company.
While the cause of the fire that originated on the front porch of the 2-story residence remains under investigation, Deputy State Fire Marshals are confident that the family of five were saved by their working smoke alarms. Despite damage estimated at over half a million dollars, the two adults and their three young children, along with the family dog, were saved after they awoke to the smoke alarms in their home.
Working smoke alarms are your first line of defense when it comes to surviving a house fire. An average of 3,000 Americans die in home fires annually, with nearly two thirds of those occurring in homes without functioning smoke alarms. Oftentimes, those homes have smoke alarms but the devices are without batteries or the batteries have expired. This is why the State of Maryland requires homes to use 10-year, tamper-resistant smoke alarms in all homes. These alarms have a lithium-ion battery that cannot be removed or changed. After the device's 10-year life span, it is disposed of and replaced with another alarm. The only maintenance required is a monthly testing of the device, by hitting the test button on the alarm, to ensure it is in good working order.
Homes with hardwired smoke alarms do not have to change to 10-year lithium-ion alarms because they only need backup batteries in the event of a power outage. However, those hardwired alarms should be replaced when they reach 10 years of age. Every bedroom, the common area outside of bedrooms, and every other level of the dwelling should have a smoke alarm. These alarms should be interconnected, so that when one goes off they all do, to ensure immediate evacuation of occupants. Today's smoke alarms have the ability to be interconnected without being hardwired, making it easier to upgrade your home's system.
If you have concerns about your home's smoke alarms, or the cost of new smoke alarms, please reach out to your local fire department for assistance. As always, the Office of the State Fire Marshal stands ready to answer any questions you may have about fire and life safety. E-mail us at email@example.com or call 410-653-8980.