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Philadelphia Officials Urging Residents To Ensure Smoke Detectors Work In Wake Of Tragic Fairmount Fire

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It's been a week since a devastating fire claimed the lives of 12, including nine children, in Philadelphia's Fairmount section. During the latest briefing on the fire, leaders made a case for how important it is to have working smoke detectors in your home.

Officials say every time a tragedy happens like the fire in Fairmount, the fire department's community action team gets inundated with calls for smoke detectors, but they say fighting fires is everyone's responsibility.

"Prior to an event, it's pretty common for people not to think about a fire emergency," Philadelphia Division of Fire Prevention Chief Gus Baumann said.

But a fire emergency is all that the community action teams think about. CAT, as they're commonly known, is a division within the Philadelphia Fire Department. They respond to fire emergencies every day, but they also work to prevent fires.

"We love doing that, but what that will always have someone calling us and we love it," Baumann said. "We don't mind. We're coming out."

Baumann is the battalion chief for the CAT teams. You can call 311 and one of them will come out to install a 10-year, lithium battery smoke detector. The teams have about 2,000 smoke detectors on hand, but they're working to clear a backlog. The waiting list is now about two months long.

"What we find is just as quickly as we go through a list that list keeps growing," Baumann said.

There are three different CAT teams situated throughout the city. Their smoke detector program is for people who own their homes. If you rent, you should contact your landlord to have a smoke detector installed. If they don't respond, then call 311 to file a complaint.

Baumann says the time to think about a fire is now.

"Our smoke detectors are a tool that we use, but we always encourage residents to have a home escape plan for every member of the house, for every room of the dwelling that are in the residence," Baumann said.

Baumann also strongly suggests immediately replacing batteries if your detector starts to beep. The home in Fairmount had smoke detectors, however, investigators say all but one were all disabled.

For more on CAT's smoke detector program, click here.

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