Fire marshals provide tips to plan for fire prevention

By: Bria Brown | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published November 2, 2016


METRO DETROIT — How long has it been since you’ve updated your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home? If it’s been longer than 10 years, plan to change your detectors immediately. 

Southfield Fire Marshal Jim Dundas said the first and most important thing is to make sure you have working smoke detectors in your home.

“Smoke detectors should be inside and outside of every sleeping area, and there should be at least one detector on every level of the home,” said Dundas.

“What kills people in fires is typically the smoke. They (smoke detectors) protect you the most when you’re sleeping,” he said.

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors alert a family to the presence of CO — a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas — within your home, according to Dundas.

“Having carbon monoxide detectors is good if there are problems with the heating insulation in the house — especially for older homes,” said Dundas.

Residents should check smoke detector batteries monthly, according to Roseville Fire Marshal Andres Maldonado. 

“You should be checking them monthly and change the batteries, but especially around the holiday season when people tend to cook more,” Maldonado said. 

Along with having updated smoke detectors, West Bloomfield Deputy Fire Marshal Dave DeBoer said residents could have interconnected smoke detectors to make sure all alarms will sound.

“Stand-alone smoke detectors will alert you of smoke, but only in that area,” he said.

Maldonado said residents should be aware of smoke and carbon monoxide detector sensors, making sure there is no blockage. 

“Sometimes with smoke detectors in homes, they get a little dusty. You want to clean those off; you don’t want anything blocking the smoke so it can give you the earliest possible advanced notice,” said Maldonado. 

“These are very minute and small details, but these are the details that can ultimately save your life and your home,” he said. 

Dundas recommends a home fire safety plan. 

“Have an escape plan with at least two ways out of every room. If the doorway is blocked, plan on exiting by the window,” Dundas said.  

According to DeBoer, some firefighters have lost their lives trying to save people who were thought to be inside a home, but who had already escaped. At the scene of a fire, one of the department’s first priorities is to make sure everyone is out safe. 

“Every family needs to have a meeting place outside of the home, and every family member needs to know where that meeting place is,” said DeBoer. 

DeBoer suggests that families practice their exit strategies as if there was a fire happening. 

“They may have to crawl and stay low to the ground because of the level of smoke,” he said. 

To protect important documents, fire marshals advise homeowners to get a fire-safe box and, if possible, to make copies of documents to store at relatives’ homes. People also can scan the documents and save copies to a flash drive. 

Homeowners should have at least one fire extinguisher, which they can purchase at a local hardware store, according to Dundas. 

Fire Prevention Week is in early October, but fire marshals continue to educate hospitals, schools and residents throughout the holiday season about fire prevention and planning.