Smoke detectors can save lives and money

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) — After several fires have hit homes in the past three months, Westfield Fire officials urge residents to make sure fire alarms are working and are in their homes.

Since Oct. 1 of this year, there have been eight structure fires in the city of Westfield. And while no lives were lost in the blazes each one impacted lives of residents. The Westfield Fire Department continues to urge residents to install proper working smoke detectors after one of the homes, which had significant damage and was left inhabitable, was found to not have working smoke detectors.

A photo from the Columbia Street fire on Dec. 21. (Photo credit: Lynn Boscher)
A photo from the Columbia Street fire on Dec. 21. (Photo credit: Lynn Boscher)

The fire on Columbia Street earlier this month had resulted in estimated damage costs of $200,000, after an unattended candle caused a fire in the home. The fire was seen by neighbors, who then alerted emergency personnel and the occupants, who eventually were able to escape, but a cat was reportedly unaccounted for. The home also had no working smoke detectors.

The $200,000 cost is more than the total estimated loss from six other fires—the seventh fire, which was on Dec. 28 on Notre Dame Street, is still under investigation and numbers were not available at the time of this article. Those six totaled $132,500 in estimated losses and each had working smoke detectors. Additionally, the most costly fire that had detectors, which was on Yeoman Avenue in October, caused just $60,000, compared to the $200,000 cost on Columbia Street.

“There were different causes to each of those fires but at the end of the day detectors alerted those occupants,” Westfield Fire deputy chief Eric Bishop said. “And early detection means minimal loss.”

Westfield Fire deputy chief Eric Bishop
Westfield Fire deputy chief Eric Bishop

Of course, cost isn’t the only reason working detectors are important. Lives are at risk as well, and according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) a working smoke detector cuts the risk of losing a life in a fire in half. Also according to NFPA, three out of five home fire deaths occur when there is no working smoke detector in the residence.

“Not only will a detector reduce your loss but it will also save your life,” Bishop said. “And life is worth more than a $30 smoke detector.”

For more information on kinds of smoke detectors to purchase, check out the November 25th article from The Westfield News on new smoke detector standards in the state. If you’re still unsure, Bishop and the State Fire Marshal’s Office urge residents to purchase 10-year sealed battery-powered smoke detectors.

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