This biweekly column is written and sponsored by the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management. This week, guest contributor Arlington County Fire Department provides fire safety tips to kick off Fire Prevention Week (October 9-15).
Many people assume that having smoke alarms in their homes automatically protects them in the event of a fire. The reality is that smoke alarms do not last forever. The Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) urges all residents to know how old their smoke alarms are and to replace them every 10 years. Smoke alarms must also be maintained and tested monthly to ensure they are working properly.
To find out how old your smoke alarm is and its expiration date, simply look on the back of the alarm where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase).
A recent survey conducted by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) revealed that only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are or how often they need to be replaced.
To increase awareness, the NFPA has declared the theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week as “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.” Fire Prevention Week is October 9-15, 2016.
To support Fire Prevention Week, ACFD will be hosting an open house at all 10 of their fire stations on Saturday, October 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors are invited to tour the station, see the equipment, climb in the trucks, talk with firefighters and paramedics, and participate in fire safety activities.
Acting ACFD Fire Chief, Joseph Reshetar has been with the fire service over 31 years and has witnessed the difference working smoke alarms can make in a home fire. “Time and again, I’ve seen the life-saving impact smoke alarms can have in a home fire. I’ve also seen the tragic and even fatal results when smoke alarms aren’t functioning properly. That’s why we are making a concerted effort to ensure all Arlington County residents have working smoke alarms and know how to maintain them,” says Chief Reshetar.
Besides educating residents on the importance of smoke alarms, firefighters have also been providing free home fire safety checks and smoke alarm installations as part of “Operation Firesafe”. Firefighters spend two hours a week going door to door offering residents these free services. In the past six months, firefighters installed 695 smoke alarms in Arlington County homes. Firefighters found that 89 of those homes had no working smoke alarms before they visited.
For more information on requesting a home fire safety check, smoke alarm installations or this year’s Fire Prevention Week open house, visit ACFD online at https://fire.arlingtonva.us.
Some additional smoke alarm guidelines:
- Install smoke alarms in every bedroom and in a common area on each level of your home.
- Test your smoke alarm monthly.
- Change your smoke alarm batteries twice a year.
- Replace all smoke alarms every 10 years.
- Make and practice a home fire escape plan with everyone in your home.
- Remember when the smoke alarm sounds, get outside and then call 9-1-1.