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Fire officials stress safety during winter. holidays

With multiple structure fires in the past few weeks, Troy Fire officials are reminding residents about safety tips and the importance of smoke detectors.

Troy Fire Marshal Brandy Cox said residents should remember that the Troy Fire Department can provide and install smoke detectors in a home free of charge.

“We have a program going on right now where, if there’s a home that doesn’t have a smoke alarm in it, they can call the fire station at 334-566-5943 and request for us to come out and do an assessment for smoke alarm installation,” Cox said. “We will provide and install them at no cost.”

Anybody within Troy Fire Jurisdiction is eligible for the program Cox said, the department simply requires documentation to keep record of how many are installed at each address.

Far too often, the lack of a functional smoke detector leads to death, Cox said.

“A lot of people think that if they have a fire in their home that it will wake them up, and that’s not typically the case,” Cox said. “A lot of fire deaths occur due to smoke inhalation, from carbon monoxide and poisonous gases inside the home; a lot of people don’t wake up from that.”

The National Fire Protection Agency reports the death rate per home fire is twice as high in homes without a working smoke detector.

“That includes homes where smoke alarms may be present, but didn’t operate because the detectors were disconnected or the batteries were dead,” Cox said. “That’s a common problem. Of all some detector failures, 25 percent are attributed to battery death. It’s important to check your smoke detector monthly and replace batteries twice a year.”

Cox said some newer smoke detectors have longer lasting batteries, but each home owner should check their manual to determine how often batteries need to be replaced.

It’s also important for residents to change smoke detectors every decade.

“We recommend they are replaced every 10 years,” Cox said. “There is a performance life on those; once they get past 10 years, the sensitivity doesn’t operate properly. There should be a manufacturing date stamped on the back so you can check to see if it has been 10 years.”

The fire department recommends a detector in each sleeping room as well one on each floor of the home. A detector should also be placed outside of sleeping areas, but should be kept far enough from the kitchen to avoid false alarms from everyday cooking.

Cox said this is a dangerous time of year for fires with personal heaters being used, Christmas tree hazards and cooking hazards.

“During cold weather months of the holiday season, we tend to see an increase in home fires due to heat sources too close to combustible materials,” Cox said. “We recommend a three-foot clearance around space heaters away from combustible materials. If using an electric space heater, plug it into a wall outlet and not an extension cord or power strip. They are not designed to carry that high of an electrical load and will overheat. If using an open-flame source such as a natural gas or propane heater, we recommend using a carbon monoxide detector. We cannot provide those, but if an appliance is not operating properly, it could put off carbon monoxide. Keep and Christmas trees watered and any Christmas lights used should be labeled ‘UL listed.’”