August 27, 2018

Fire Safety: Smoke Detectors Save Lives. Make sure you have them, and that they work.

Another completely avoidable fire-related tragedy, this one in Chicago.

Early Sunday morning, 8 people - 6 children and 2 adults - were killed in a residential apartment fire in Chicago.  2 additional children are hospitalized in very critical condition, so the likely death toll will be 10 people - 8 children and 2 adults.  1 firefighter was also hospitalized.

The fire started in an enclosed porch at the rear of the building.  It has been called the deadliest Chicago fire in more than a decade.

And working smoke detectors?  None found.

According to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesperson Larry Langford, the deaths and injuries could have been avoided if working smoke detectors had been in use:
"It was not hard to get out. The fire started in the rear, and the entryway to the front was wide open," Langford said. "Had they been awake or if someone had woken them, they would have gotten out."
The people would be alive or otherwise uninjured today had there been working smoke detectors in the apartment.

During a fire, a person can become unconscious and die from smoke inhalation in as little as 2 minutes.  2 minutes!  This is one life saving issue I counsel clients on when I review residential and business fire insurance.  Make sure your home and business has working smoke detectors.  If battery powered, change the batteries every 6 months.  Replace smoke detector units every 10 years, or sooner if they malfunction.

I'll post (again) about fire extinguishers in a future post.

Smoke detectors.  Inexpensive and life saving. 

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit

Mary Rae Fouts


  1. Are smoke detectors required to be installed in homes? Mine always chirp so I took them out could not sleep and cat freaked out all of the time don't think they work even

    1. As far as smoke detectors being legally required in a dwelling, you would need to check your local or state laws for that answer. Even if not legally required, they are a must-have life saving item, and should be placed throughout the dwelling.

      If your smoke detectors chirped, (1) either you simply needed new batteries, or (2) the unites may have needed replacing. Either fix is inexpensive. Smoke detector units generally have about a 10 year life span before they need to be replaced. Get some smoke detectors installed today! Mary Rae Fouts


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