This post was originally posted on April 4, 2008. The first week of April has turned deadly and the totals are 28 fire fatalities since the first of the month. See the comments for additional information on the fatalities.
Does it ever feel like we are fighting a loosing battle? No matter how many times we spread the word on the need for good code changes, the need for working smoke alarms, the need to practice fire safety in your home, or the need for a home sprinkler system it seems we still have tragic losses around the United States. This week we saw two tragic fires that have changed lives forever.
The first occurred in Brockway Pennsylvania and claimed the lives of ten. This early morning fire occurred in their home and the cause is still under investigation. The second fire occurred in a manufactured home and killed the family of five from Ada Ohio. A third fire occurred yesterday that took the lives of two fire fightersin Colerian Township as they fell through the floor while trying to battle the fire.
These three fires have occurred in less then a week and killed 17 people and affected the lives of hundreds. Are these three fires enough for us to become passionate about stopping this problem we have? Who’s problem is it?
What can we do about these fires as code officials? What can we do to save lives of fire fighters? My answer is to continuously educate our communities and go beyond what we are used to doing. We need every inspector check for smoke alarms when ever an inspection is performed (that means the plumbing, mechanical, building, and electrical must know where these devices shall be located). We need inspectors to participate in the code change process and make sure our citizens are protected beyond the interest of builders and industry. We need our government to support our causes as inspectors and help us protect our citizens. We need our code officials to look toward using codes and standards to keep our communities safe at all costs.
Lets create initiatives that will save lives in their home. Residential sprinklers are a great source of solving our future fire problem. It will not save the lives of those who live in homes without residential sprinklers. There has to be a continued effort to save lives and to conduct home fire safety inspections. We as a community must find ways to continually educate the public on smoke alarms, residential sprinklers, and home safety plans.
What are you doing as an inspector to battle this problem? What would you like to do?
ps. Check your smoke alarms and practice your home escape plan right now. Then tell one person to do the same. Maybe we can save a life which may be yours.