Check fire alarms when you reset clocks, fire officials say

Daylight Savings Time is here again – see why your firefighters say “Change your clocks; check your fire alarm” on March 8 …

While at a training exercise (not a working fire), Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt here reminds us to check the battery in – or replace – smoke alarms in homes and businesses.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It doesn’t take much for a small fire to become a killing blaze. Even though Portland has the best firefighters in the nation, in our opinion, they say citizens should take steps to protect themselves and their families by making sure their home has working fire or smoke alarm systems.

“Fires caused by an unattended candle, combustibles placed too close to a heater, or an electrical problem can cause a late-night fire,” said Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt. “Working smoke detectors give people the precious moments they need to escape the killing smoke and fumes produced by a fire before we arrive.”

It took only moments for a small fire to turn into a raging blaze, as we see at this training exercise. A working smoke detector is vital to allowing a timely escape.

Change your clocks, check your fire alarms
It has been a longstanding practice for the fire bureau to ask citizens to check their fire and smoke alarms when changing their clock to Daylight Savings Time. This year, that happens early on Sunday, March 8.

Oswalt reminded us that smoke alarm regulations in Oregon are more strict than in other states. “Since 1999, the law requires all ionization-only smoke alarms sold in the state to have a ‘hush’ feature; and if an ionization-only smoke alarm is also solely battery-powered, it must also come with a 10-year lithium battery.”

If your smoke alarm is nearing a decade old – or, if you can’t remember when it was installed – consider replacing the unit. “It you have a new model with the long-life lithium batteries, check it to make sure it’s still working,” Oswalt reminded.

Additional safety tips include:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, and outside each sleeping area
  • Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years old or older
  • Hard-wired alarms should have battery back-ups
  • Never disconnect or remove batteries from smoke alarms for other uses
  • Make a home escape plan, and practice it

Oswalt concluded by saying, “Don’t be a victim. Working smoke detectors save lives.”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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