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Murray Journal

Murray Fire Department to Murrayites: Check your smoke alarms

Nov 01, 2022 08:25PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Fire erupted on a balcony at the Spring Tree Condominiums on Oct. 9. The couple residing in the unit slept soundly as the fire spread through the upper parts of their home. Fortunately, a neighbor was awake, saw the fire, and roused the couple to get out. Later, they reported not hearing any smoke alarms.

Ironically, the fire happened on the first day of Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9-15, and the Murray Fire Department reminded everyone to check their fire alarms and ensure they have them in the right places.

“We encourage all residents to place one smoke detector in each bedroom, and one in each gathering area within the home,” Murray City Fire Chief Joseph Mittelman said. “For your kitchen, you can avoid false alarms by not placing them above the toaster or stove area and placing it across the room and in the high point of the ceiling.”

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, in fires where smoke alarms were present but did not operate, two of every five (41%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries. Dead batteries caused one-quarter of the smoke alarm failures.

Also, the association recommends testing your smoke alarms at least once a month. Furthermore, they recommend changing the smoke detector’s battery once a year and replacing the sensor at least every 10 years.

“Your local hardware stores are a great place to purchase smoke detectors. If you are struggling to install your alarms or are lower income, we have a great Red Cross partner you can contact for smoke detectors. Murray Fire Department serves as one of their many volunteers for installing these smoke detectors,” Mittelman said.

Murray FD visited city elementary schools during Fire Prevention Week, providing fire safety assemblies to all second-grade classes and sending home assignments as a family activity. These assignments are designed to increase awareness of how to prevent fires and develop family escape plans.

“We are holding a coloring contest with the coloring books we will deliver. One winner from each school will win a really cool prize,” Deputy Fire Marshal Steve Roberson said.

Because fire can spread rapidly through your home, the NFPA says residents may have as little as one or two minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Escape plans should have a meeting place, and once you get out, stay out; let the fire department rescue your pets.

“Our top three areas of concern are permanent power supply through extension cord use, storage of oily rags for home projects, and youth access to matches or lighters. Murray Fire suggests making sure you never use extension cords for permanent power supply and never overload a circuit. When possible, use surge protectors, dispose of oily rags in a proper metal container, and always store ignition sources away from children,” Mittelman said.

As wireless devices have increased, so have wired power cords. The Electrical Safety Foundation International reports that roughly 3,300 home fires originate in extension cords each year, killing 50 people and injuring 270 more. They especially recommend that you don’t overload extension cords, and if you are heavily reliant on them, consider installing additional outlets.

“Kitchen fires account for 44% of all residential fires. We encourage all residents to evaluate their kitchens and remove the combustible material such as paper, cardboard, oils, chips, etc. from being stored around their ovens, toaster, and other heating devices,” Mittelman said.

Mittelman also believes Murrayites could prevent more fires by simply being more aware.

“Always choose to investigate the smell of smoke when in question. Remember that early notification is key for successful fire suppression and minimizing water damage,” Mittelman said.


If you would like to see if you qualify for a free smoke alarm, you can request one at the American Red Cross webpage at