Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s “Get Alarmed, Tennessee” Campaign Saves 300 Lives
“Get Alarmed, Tennessee” is an in-home fire safety education and smoke alarm installation campaign implemented in November 2012 by the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s office. As of May 12th, 2020, we are thrilled to announce that 300 Tennessee lives have been saved through our statewide campaign of installing smoke alarms. According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), smoke alarms provide an early warning of a fire, giving people additional escape time. In 2012-2016, smoke alarms were present in three-quarters of American homes (74%) and sounded in more than half (53%) of the home fires reported by U.S. fire departments. Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with zero smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Therefore, having functioning smoke alarms in your home cuts your chances of perishing in a fire by half.
It is clear that smoke alarms save lives, but only if they are properly installed and maintained. To date, over 500 out of 698 total fire departments in Tennessee and partnering organizations have participated in our “Get Alarmed, Tennessee” campaign. Additionally, 231,500 smoke alarms have been distributed to fire departments across the state through funding from FEMA’s Fire Prevention and Safety Grant Program.
Through our system of matching saved lives with smoke alarm installation addresses, we were recently able to track 300 saved lives. In those instances, it has been confirmed by the local fire departments that the smoke alarms contributed to the occupant’s ability to escape fire danger and survive.
Over 191,000 smoke alarms have been physically installed in homes across Tennessee. Through our campaign, we install 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms to ensure that the smoke alarms never need a new battery, and merely need to be changed every 10 years. Some tips to keep in mind when installing a smoke alarm are to install alarms in every sleeping area, outside of every sleeping area, and on every level of your home. A smoke alarm should be placed on the ceiling or high on a wall and should be kept away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. Remember, it is important to test your smoke alarms at least once per month to ensure they are still working. If the smoke alarm siren is malfunctioning, replace the alarm immediately. Also, be sure to change the alarm battery if it begins to chirp randomly, as that is a signal that the batteries are low.
After installation of your smoke alarms, practice your escape plan by yourself, with family, with roommates, and with anyone living in your home. Also, take the time to create an escape plan for your grandparents or elderly neighbors, as those 65 and older are twice as likely to be killed or injured by fires. Since a small flame can quickly grow out of control and turn into a large, uncontrollable fire in less than 30 seconds, it is vital for you and your loved ones to establish your family’s fire escape route and designated meeting place. For your designated meeting place, pick a light post, a specific tree, a mailbox, or a known and recognizable marker a safe distance from your home. Remember Tennessee, building your fire escape plan can keep yourself and your community safe!
For more information on “Get Alarmed, Tennessee!” Please go to our website: https://www.tn.gov/commerce/fire/prevention-education-and-outreach/get-alarmed-tn.html
Gary Farley serves as the Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention at the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.