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ACFD: Smoke Alarms, Escape Plan Saved Lives in House Fire

Two people were rescued by Arlington firefighters this morning, but the fire department says their lives were also saved by working smoke detectors and a fire escape plan.

The fire broke out just before 3:30 this morning on the 4500 block of 40th Street N., in the Old Glebe neighborhood. The home’s occupants were woken up by smoke detectors, and made their way to the roof after not being able to get downstairs. Firefighters used ladders to bring the pair to safety.

ACFD is using the blaze and the dramatic rescue to remind residents about steps they can take now that will save lives in the event of a fire. From a press release:

Early this morning, Arlington County firefighters responded to a house fire in North Arlington and found two adults trapped on the roof of their two-story home. Firefighters used ground ladders to quickly rescue the occupants before transporting both of them to the hospital for minor injuries.

The occupants later told fire department officials that they were sleeping when the fire started and awoke to the sound of their smoke alarms. They were unable to go down the stairs, due to the large amount of smoke, but they had previously prepared a fire escape plan and knew a second way out of their home. The occupants remained calm, climbed onto the roof and called 9-1-1 for help. Working smoke alarms alerted them to the fire when they were sleeping, and following their fire escape plan allowed them to stay safe while firefighters responded.

According to U.S. Fire Administration, more than 80% of civilian fire fatalities occur in residential buildings. Maintaining your smoke alarm and practicing your fire escape plan are necessary to keep you and your family safe in the event of a fire.

The Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) reminds you to:

  • Install smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom.
  • Test your smoke alarms every month by pressing the “test” button.
  • Change the batteries in all alarms twice a year with daylight savings time, unless you alarm is equipped with a 10 year lithium battery.
  • Ensure every person in your home understands and practices your home fire escape plan twice a year. Your plan should include two ways out of every room, getting low, closing the door behind, going directly to your predetermined family meeting place, and then calling 9-1-1.

The ACFD also urges you to seek assistance if you encounter potential hoarding conditions. The amount of clutter and personal belongings in this home hindered firefighters’ ability to quickly gain access and extinguish the fire. There were no additional injuries in this case, but hoarding conditions can have deadly consequences for the occupants and first responders, such as blocked exits, falling objects, excessive fire load and potential for collapse. Arlington County Hoarding Task Force provides resources for the community, while maintaining the person’s right to privacy.

Photos courtesy @CAPT258

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