The New England and Tri-state area experienced many tragic fires this past year that resulted in fatalities. These fatal fires did not just take the life of a single person. These were fires with multiple fatalities. In investigating these tragic fires it was discovered that most of the structures did not have any operable smoke alarms. These situations could have been avoided with education in fire prevention and the installation of smoke alarms.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, there were more than 1.4 million fires reported in the United States in 2009. This translated into 3,320 civilian deaths and 16,705 civilian injuries. The New Canaan career firefighters urge all citizens to install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

A working smoke alarm provides early warning and critical extra seconds to escape, which is especially important during nighttime fires. Many people mistakenly believe they will be awakened by the smell of smoke. In reality, smoke disorients people and contributes to more fire deaths than actual burns.

Besides installing smoke detectors and changing smoke alarm batteries, the New Canaan firefighters recommend that residents identify a meeting place and practice escape routes with the entire family. Remember, once you're out, stay out, and only dial 911 from a neighbor's house or from a cordless or cellular phone.

The tragic fires mentioned earlier have prompted the New Canaan Career Firefighters to take action and launch a smoke alarm awareness campaign. Thanks to First Alert, the New Canaan Fire Department received a donation of 100 smoke alarms and 50 carbon monoxide alarms. These alarms are available to New Canaan residents. Three smoke alarms and one carbon monoxide alarm will be offered per home.

To obtain a smoke or carbon monoxide detector, contact the New Canaan Fire Department at 203-594-3140.

More Information

Smoke alarms save lives Nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms. Smoke detectors should be installed in every bedroom, outside the bedroom area and one detector on every floor. Having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a fire in half. Each year, nearly 3,000 people die in U.S. homes fires. Smoke alarms are an important part of a home fire escape plan. According to the National Fire Protection Association, less than one-fourth of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. In a 2008 telephone survey, most homes (96%) have at least one smoke alarm. Overall in that survey three-quarters of all U.S. homes have at least one working smoke alarm. Smoke alarms should be installed away from the kitchen to prevent false alarms. Generally they should be 10 feet from a cooking appliance to prevent nuisance alarms. Replace batteries in all smoke alarms at least once a year. When you change your clocks for daylight savings change your detector batteries. Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old. Smoke rises; install smoke alarms following the manufacturer's instructions high on a wall or on a ceiling. Save manufacturer's instructions for testing and maintenance. -- The National Fire Protection Association website.