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Fire Departments Stress Importance Of Smoke Detectors

By: KDKA-TV's Erika Stanish

JEANETTE, Pa. (KDKA) -- Local fire departments are urging homeowners to test, replace and install smoke detectors inside their homes after two fatal fires in Pennsylvania this week.

The City of Jeanette Fire Department posted a video on Facebook Thursday showing how quickly a fire can spread after a house caught on fire on South Fifth Street last week.

The fire department said two adults and six children were able to escape safely after newly installed smoke detectors alerted them.

"Escape would have been impossible after approximately three minutes from the time that the fire began. This story could have been far more tragic if this property wasn't just inspected by the FDCJ 11 months prior!" the fire department's Facebook post said.

smoke detector
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

The Jeanette Fire Department said the family had three minutes from the time the fire started to get out of the home before it would have been too late.

"As you can see in this video, the conditions on the second floor of this house were already not survivable without protective equipment upon our arrival approximately two minutes from dispatch. Even with a quick arrival and knock down of the fire three minutes from arrival, conditions inside were already bad enough to severely injure or kill anyone that would have been inside on the second floor," the post said.

Fire officials said 11 months earlier, they inspected the home and replaced the smoke detectors.

"The smoke detectors were 19 years old. Two of the detectors were painted over when the walls were last painted and the most disturbing, the second floor smoke detector (that was in the location of the new detector that alerted the occupants in time to escape) was not only 19 years old and painted over but also DID NOT EMMIT AN AUDIBLE SOUND when it was tested!" the fire department said in a Facebook post.

The Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department stressed to KDKA on Thursday the importance of a working smoke detector.

"That's the number one device. It's going to alert you to get you out of the house as quick as possible," Rick Steele, president of the Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department, said. "For as inexpensive as they are, that insurance policy, again something you hope you never have to use, but for a few dollars, we want them on every level of your house."

He said new homes burn faster and give residents less time to escape in an emergency. Steele added that homeowners should change the batteries in their smoke detectors twice a year and replace them completely after ten years.

"I can't emphasize enough how important these devices are. Every year you watch the news, people are dying in fires. It's extremely unfortunate. And then when you add children to it, it makes it more tragic and then you add this time of year around the holidays, it just gets you right in the heart." Steele said. "Smoke detectors save lives."

If you need a smoke detector or have questions on how to install them or change the batteries, contact your local fire department.

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