BAR HARBOR — On the heels of 13 fire-related deaths in the state over the past three months, public safety officials here are urging residents to make sure they have working smoke detectors in place.
Recent local inspections that revealed inoperative or missing detectors have officials concerned.
“Smoke alarms are set at a tone to basically drive you out of the property, and that is exactly what they are supposed to do,” fire chief Matt Bartlett said. “It takes very little smoke to set them off, giving you a chance to get yourself quickly out of the building you’re in before the fire has a chance to get big.”
Local fire departments across the state have joined with the state fire marshal’s office, local fire departments and the American Red Cross in a nationwide effort to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries by 25 percent over the next five years.
Smoke alarms are key to this effort, Bartlett said. However, firefighters doing safety inspections often find alarms that have had the batteries removed, or hard-wired alarms with the electrical breakers turned off so they cannot function. Smoke alarms kept close to a kitchen are often set off easily, Bartlett said.
Instead of disconnecting the units, people should consider moving them to another location.
The alarms also are considered a nuisance by many when they start chirping due to low batteries, he said. If the alarm continues chirping after the battery is replaced, then it is time for a new detector.
Most simple models cost less than $10.
“I would recommend replacing smoke detectors after 10 years,” he said.
Bartlett is encouraging landlords to check to see if their tenants are maintaining their smoke detectors. When properties are turned over, he said, it is important for landlords to make sure that all smoke alarms are working properly, and they should outline expectations of the same for incoming tenants.
“It goes without saying, they’re not going to work if they’re not maintained,” Bartlett said.
Fire officials here would be happy to perform no-cost fire safety inspections for any residents who would like such service, Bartlett said. They can check over smoke detectors, electrical outlets, use of extension cords and the like, he said.
“We very much want to help educate the public and work with them to prevent fires,” he said. “We encourage people to give us a call to set up an inspection.”
The fire department can be reached by calling 288-5554.