Smoke alarms provide a sound you can live with

The United States and U.S. military communities around the world will observe Fire Prevention Week Oct. 3-9. In U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, there will be fire drills at local Department of Defense Dependents Schools and firefighters will visit child development centers.

The week concludes Oct. 9 with a fire prevention demonstration at the
Army and Air Force Exchange Service shopping mall on Panzer Kaserne from
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will feature fire trucks, firefighting equipment and activities for all ages.

Although Fire Prevention Week will soon be over, Installation Management
Command safety officials say such concerns remain a constant priority.
That’s especially true this year as Army installations experienced more
than 300 reportable fire incidents in the first three quarters of fiscal year
2010 — resulting in three deaths, nine injuries and $18 million in damages.

“We are committed in keeping Soldiers and their families prepared and safe whether deployed or at home … every day, every week, every month,
every year,” said Gerald Adams, IMCOM fire protection specialist.

Indeed, “We really emphasize safety and prevention during Fire Prevention
Week, but it’s something that needs to be a year-round concern,” said Steve
Collins, fire chief at Fort Rucker, Ala. This year’s theme for the weeklong
event is “Smoke Alarms! A Sound You Can Live With.” The campaign
is designed to educate people on the importance of smoke alarms, while
encouraging everyone to take the steps necessary to update and maintain their
home smoke alarm protection.

And the reason is simple, said Adams: “If you were asleep and a fire broke out in your home, do you think the smoke would awaken you? If you think so, you may be dead wrong. Infact, fire and smoke are sedatives that
will only put you into a deeper sleep while the squelching sound of a smoke
alarm will awaken you.”

Consequently, he made these suggestions:

• Install and maintain a smoke alarm
on every level of your home.
• Never remove or disable smoke
• Test smoke alarms at least monthly
by pushing the test button.
• If an alarm “chirps,” the battery is
low; replace it right away.
• Replace batteries at least twice
a year if you own a battery-operated
smoke detector(s), such as when you
change to daylight savings time.

Army Family Housing leases executed on or after Oct. 1, 2006, and
renewals or extensions of existing leases on or after Oct. 1, 2007, require
hard-wired smoke alarms throughout the building that are interconnected. Leases
executed prior to those years have smoke alarms installed in hallways leading
to bedrooms.

Occupants can, at their own expense, install additional smoke alarms. Army barracks have smoke alarms installed in all sleeping areas.
Fire Prevention Week was established to remind folks of the importance
of fire safety and the lessons learned following the Great Chicago Fire
that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than
17,400 structures and destroyed a business empire.

In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation, and FPW has been observed since 1922. Army Fire and Emergency Services partners annually with the National Fire Protection Association to promote Fire Prevention Week.

For more information, visit
Editor’s Note: Russell Sellers of the Fort Rucker Public Affairs Office
contributed to this story.