Fire Prevention Week: A life-saving test

Tech Sgt. Wayne Blake
435th Civil Engineer Squadron

Smoke detectors are a very serious and personal issue for me. In February 2003, I tragically lost three close family members to a house fire. Their lives may have been saved if only they had smoke detectors in their home.

As a firefighter and now a fire inspector in the fire protection flight, this tragedy has amplified my desire to ensure everyone’s safety.
This year’s theme for National Fire Prevention Week, which is from Oct. 3 to 9, is “Test Your Smoke Alarms.” These small, inexpensive, yet vital pieces of equipment are guaranteed to save lives almost every time.

Why say “almost every time?” Well, the equipment is only as good as its power source and the care it has been given over its lifetime. If the batteries are not working or the unit has been neglected to be cleaned then it will only work “almost every time.” By testing your smoke alarms you will learn the very important information – whether your smoke detectors are working properly.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, half of all house fire deaths occur in homes without smoke detectors.
A study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that one-fifth of the smoke alarms in homes were not connected to a working power source. Eleven percent of the units were missing batteries, 5 percent had dead batteries, 3 percent had disconnected batteries, and 1 percent had been disconnected from the A/C power source.

Please help me ensure your safety and that of your loved ones. Check your smoke detectors at least monthly, and change the batteries every spring and fall. Your life may depend on it!