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State Fire Marshal’s office begins 300th life-saving alert

NASHVILLE, TN — The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) begin the 300th life-saving alert by a smoke alarm installed through the “Get Alarmed, Tennessee!” program.

Started in 2012, “Get Alarmed” is an in-home fire safety education and smoke alarm installation program created to help reduce the risk of home fire deaths. Through the program, the SFMO has partnered with Tennessee fire departments and volunteer organizations to install 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms for Tennessee residents. The smoke alarms are purchased with funds via a federal grant. To date, more than 191,000 smoke alarms have been installed in Tennesseans’ homes. Additionally, 231,500 smoke alarms have been distributed to fire departments across the state.

In order to track the program’s effectiveness, Tennessee fire departments provide statistical information to the SFMO when a “Get Alarmed” smoke alarm alerts a resident to a fire. The 300th alert occurred in Johnson City in January 2020 and was recently verified by the Johnson City Fire Department.

“‘Get Alarmed’ is the perfect synergy of state and local partners fulfilling Governor Lee’s vision for improving Tennessee communities while focusing on public safety,” said State Fire Marshal and TDCI Commissioner Hodgen Mainda. “I commend the staff of the State Fire Marshal’s Office and all our local partners who have been crucial to this program’s ongoing success. I urge Tennessee residents who are in need of working smoke alarms to contact your local fire department and ask if they participate in ‘Get Alarmed, Tennessee’ today.”

Working smoke alarms combined with fire safety education and other fire prevention methods have contributed to Tennessee improving its overall rate of fire fatalities. Once ranked among the highest states in the country in its rate of unintentional civilian fire deaths, Tennessee’s recent fire data from 2019 show a 10% decrease of fire deaths which follows an overall national downward trend.

“‘Get Alarmed, Tennessee!’ was created with one goal: To help save the lives of Tennessee residents,” said Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley. “The 300th life-saving alert is a milestone for the ‘Get Alarmed’ program, our Department, and the entire State of Tennessee. By working with our local partners in the Tennessee fire service, this program has helped make Tennessee a national leader among our peers.”

“Here in the Appalachian region of Tennessee, we frequently work with families who may not have the means to provide their own smoke alarms. The ‘Get Alarmed' program fills a void for many Tennessee communities and should be heralded across the nation,” said Johnson City Fire Department Chief Jim Stables. “The ‘Get Alarmed’ program offers quantifiable proof of its success when someone gets to see his or her family again after a working smoke alarm detects a fire and allows that person to safely escape. This program is a model for how state and local governments should work together, and I wholeheartedly support it.”

When installing smoke alarms in a home, the SFMO reminds consumers of the following tips and best practices:

• Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, including the basement. For the best protection, smoke alarms should be installed inside and outside sleeping rooms. Make sure everyone can hear the alarm and knows what it sounds like.

• For the best protection, equip your home with a combination of ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual-sensor alarms. Interconnect the alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound.

• Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are available and are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps on these units, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.

• For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, replace batteries at least once a year (preferably) twice a year during daylight saving time). If that alarm chirps, replace only the battery.

• Remember, even alarms that are hard-wired into your home electrical system need to have their battery back-ups maintained in case of electrical power outage.

• Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning to keep smoke alarms working well. The instructions are included in the package or can be found on the internet.

• Test alarms once a month using the test button. Replace the entire alarm if it's 10 years old or older or if it fails to sound when tested.

• Devise a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a designated outside meeting place. Share and practice the plan with all who live in the home, including children.

• When a smoke alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately and go to your pre-planned meeting place to call 9-1-1.

Published May 18, 2020

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