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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Smoke Alarms Continue to Sound a Warning in County Homes


MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     Twitter: @PGFDPIO

For the 11th time over the past 3 months a family in Prince George’s County was alerted to a fire in their home by a working smoke alarm.  Not just any smoke alarm, it was a working smoke alarm installed by a firefighter just last year.

At about 7:45 pm, Tuesday, April 15, an electrical event occurred which started a fire inside the wall of a
1-story, 1300 sq. ft. single family home in the 2500 block of Booker T. Drive in Upper Marlboro.  The fire continued to burn and remained hidden behind the interior wall.  Smoke and flames extended up the walls in between the studs until it hit the attic where the fire grew rapidly.  Smoke and heat started to bank down from the attic into the living space below.  The occupants remained unaware of the fire.
Smoke pours from roof of home on Booker T. Drive in Upper Marlboro.
Photo courtesy of Kentland VFD Facebook.

Within moments of smoke making it’s way into the living portion of the house two smoke alarms emitted a warning of fire.  The occupants heeded the alarms warning and escaped safely.

Firefighters arrived quickly to find smoke coming from the house.  A through search of the house confirmed no one was inside.  Firefighters spent about 15-20 minutes extinguishing the fire.  The fire was declared “accidental” and attributed to an electrical malfunction.  Fire loss is estimated at  $30,000.

No civilian or firefighter injuries were reported.  Four adult occupants will be displaced and are being assisted by the American Red Cross with temporary living arrangements.  The family told personnel on scene that firefighters had installed the smoke alarms in their home last year.

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department has an extensive array of programs designed to improve the number of working smoke alarms in homes.   Long-standing and successful smoke alarm programs including Post Incident Neighbor Intervention Program (PINIP) and Pro-Active Residential Information Distribution Effort (PRIDE) are now joined by the Departments Safety First Day of the Month and Neighbor Helping Neighbor programs.  Our efforts will continue to be ensuring homes and families are protected by working smoke alarms.  The Departments focus is the promotion and use of 10-year, tamper proof, with hush feature smoke alarms that are sure to reduce the number of fire fatalities across the Country.

This home marks the 11th time a smoke alarm has sounded alerting occupants of the home of a fire.  Having a working smoke alarm in your home increases your chances of survival by about 50%.  Home occupants also should develop a home escape plan, identifying two ways way out of every room in your house and designate a safe meeting place outside.  Practice the plan often but at a minimum of twice a year.

Firefighters go door-to-door asking to check smoke alarms.  If one is found to be 10 years or older, not working or absent, firefighters will install a new smoke alarm at no charge to the homeowner.  The Department also accepts requests from citizens for new smoke alarm installation by calling 311 or 301-864-SAFE (7233).  Citizens may also request on-line by clicking here.

The free smoke alarm programs offered by our Department are made possible by the generosity of PEPCO, IAFF PGFD Local 1619, 1-800-BOARDUP and most recently the Ladies Auxiliary of the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association.  Despite the generous donation of smoke alarms the Department has challenges in meeting the current demand and our supply of smoke alarms is extremely low.  Any corporation, company, individual or group that is interested in donating smoke alarms so we can continue to save lives like Tuesday in Upper Marlboro is asked to contact the Office of the Fire Chief at 301-883-5200.







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