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State Fire Marshal’s Office smoke alarms help save lives in Memphis

Friday, June 28, 2013 | 07:40am
NASHVILLE, TN – Newly installed smoke alarms, made possible by the State Fire Marshal’s Office smoke alarm distribution program, are responsible for saving the lives of 19 Tennesseans from fire in a Memphis multi-family residence May 28, 2013. 
 
“The lives being saved through our effort constitute proof that working smoke alarms can be the difference between a household getting out safely or a fatality,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “This program not only serves to equip the public with these life-saving devices. It also provides citizens with opportunities to connect with their local fire departments, ask questions and learn about the importance of having and practicing a fire plan.” 
 
When the May 28 fire in the 1100 block of James Street started, all its residents were able to evacuate quickly and safely because of the alarms, which the State Fire Marshal’s Office provided to the Memphis Fire Department for neighborhood installations.  
 
“Seldom do we get a chance to see firsthand how “just doing our job” turns out,” said Battalion Chief Terry Norris of the Memphis Fire Department. “In this particular case we were able to absolutely prevent a tragedy from occurring by being pro-active and diligent in our quest to hang smoke detectors and save lives. The men and women of the Memphis Fire Department that serve this community can be proud of job well done.” 
 
The State Fire Marshal’s Office smoke alarm distribution program, which began late November of last year, has saved more than 33 lives across Tennessee. This program was funded in part by a FEMA FP&S Grant, which enabled the State Fire Marshal’s Office to distribute more than 25,000 smoke alarms to homes in high-risk areas across Tennessee. Historically, Tennessee’s fire mortality rate for civilians has been among the highest in the nation. 
 
Extensive research and a formal risk assessment conducted by the State Fire Marshal’s Office in 2011 showed that smoke alarms were present in only 28 percent of the residential fatal fires in Tennessee. By contrast, smoke alarms were present in approximately 38 percent of fatal fires nationally, suggesting that more lives might be saved if smoke alarms were more widely employed and maintained by Tennessee households. The data from the 2011 studies show that Tennessee has 78 highest risk communities out of the 1,261 census areas. The smoke alarm program aims to target these areas, as well as homes across the state where smoke alarms are not being employed.
 
Ultimately, the State Fire Marshal’s Office hopes to install 90,000 smoke alarms in households across Tennessee. For more fire safety information, download the State Fire Marshal’s Office home fire safety checklist at http://tn.gov/commerce/sfm/fsk/documents/checklist.pdf. 
 
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is a part of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/, @TNCommerceInsur (Twitter), http://on.fb.me/uFQwUZ (Facebook), http://bit.ly/ry1GyX (YouTube) 

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