Home safety: national fire prevention week | News

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Home safety: national fire prevention week

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- In the spirit of National Fire Prevention Week, fire officials are teaming up with the American Red Cross on a new initiative to get working smoke detectors installed in more homes statewide.

"In 2014, we had 25 fatalities to fire in the state of Maine," said state Fire Marshal Joe Thomas. "I do know that in 24 of those cases, a working smoke detector would have made a difference for people."

He has seen his share of devastating fires. So has Hermon Fire Chief Ray Pipes. He said that in the 23 years he has been on the job, he has never been to a fatality where there was a working smoke detector in the house.

Officials believe that sixty percent of homes in the state of Maine do not have working detectors installed – a staggering number.

Joe Thomas is excited about this new effort, saying, "we're literally going door-to-door, statewide, trying to make a difference."

Working with the statewide fire departments, the American Red Cross has already installed 2000 smoke detectors in homes across Maine just this week.

Danielle Hardre, Disaster Program Manager at the Red Cross, urges people to check their alarms. "Take your alarm off the wall, and actually check the manufacture date. If it's older than 10 years, PLEASE get new alarms."

But what officials are stressing more than anything is that they are here and available.

They encourage people to stop by their local fire station to pick up a smoke detector and learn about safety procedures.

Mike Spencer was among the fire chiefs who was disappointed over the lack of smoke detectors, specifically citing a fatal fire in Orrington a few years back. "Years ago we had a tragedy and we lost three kids and a father. And that was because of no working smoke detectors."

Tom Higgins, Chief of the Bangor Fire Department, urged the community to take notice on this issue, saying, "please, we are appealing to people to please check your smoke detectors. Protect your family, protect yourself."

Fire officials are also urging people to create evacuation plans for their homes and, as always, contact their local fire departments with any questions.