Smoke detectors not working in fatal fire - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/11/10

Smoke detectors not working in fatal fire

By Tiffany Pelt - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Fire investigators say Sunday's fatal fire could have been avoided if the smoke detectors had been working. Tyrell Smith, 19, was pronounced dead at University Medical Center after a fire at his north Lubbock home.

Fire investigator Elliot Eldredge says Smith started to cook something on the stove and then fell back asleep causing the fire. Eldredge says Smith was unaware the fire broke out because all the smoke detectors had been disconnected from previous false alarms while cooking.

Eldredge says that's why it's so important to have functional smoke detectors working in your home. "The current code requires there to be one in each bedroom and then one outside of each sleeping area. We recommend them in every sleeping area because that's where they're mainly designed to save the most lives. When you're asleep you're not going to be aware of the fire happening," said Eldredge.

Smoke detectors should be checked monthly, the batteries changed every two years, and the entire smoke detector should be replaced every 10 years or earlier if the manufacturer suggests otherwise. You can also use a can of air to clean out the dust and lent that might accumulate inside the smoke detector over the years.

Places you shouldn't put smoke detectors include bathrooms and kitchens. Steam from showers can cause false alarms. "You could burn something very mildly, you wont even see smoke and it'll cause that smoke detector to go off. That leads to people disabling smoke detectors because they get tired of listening to it and also it will tend to condition people to ignore smoke detector alarms," said Eldredge.

When buying one, dual-sensor smoke detectors are recommended. Those detect slow smoldering fires and flaming fires equally.

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