Yelling FIRE in a crowded auditorium is a crime if there is no actual fire, because we know our reaction to fire is a mater of life and death. As a tool fire has allowed us to survive, evolve, and prosper. The other side of fire is that we have not learned to control it. Fire can result in the devastation of lives, property, and environment.
Terrorist crashed two planes into the world trade center buildings, but the fire caused the buildings to collapse. A tsunami flooded the Fukushima nuclear power plant but the fire caused the reactor melt down. The 2015 wild fire season is out of control in the west destroying property, the environment, and people. But, every family is also threatened by fire in their own home.
Seven children, ages 5 to 16, of the Sassoon family died in a night time home fire in Brooklyn, NY March 22, 2015. The fire was reported at 12:30am. Fire trucks arrived in 3.5 minutes, but could not save them. The mother had left a hot plate on in the kitchen. Neighbors called the fire department when they saw fire coming out the windows and heard children yelling for help. There was only one smoke alarm in the home at the top of the basement stairs. No one had made sure the home had smoke alarms on very floor and outside every sleeping area. (1)
According to the National Fire Protection Association, “Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.” (2)
Nora Lamirade age 2 Van Buren, N.Y died in her crib May 3, 2015. The fire was reported at 2:30 pm. The fire trucks arrived within 4 minute, but could not save her. Nora’s mother had left food cooking on the stove. She went out into the yard with her 4 year old son. The boy ran to a neighbor’s house, the mom followed and visited for several minutes. When Mrs. Lamirade headed back home flames and smoke were coming from windows and doors. Neighbors called the fire department and tried desperately to enter the home to save Nora. (3) The Lamirade’s home was new, it was built in 2013. New York State had not adopted the 2010 fire code requiring residential fire sprinklers in new construction. If they had Nora would be alive today. (4) On August 19, 2015 the NY state code council defeated, by a 10 to 3 vote, the requirement for fire sprinkler in new one- and two-family homes.(5)
Only two states California, Maryland and the District of Columbia have mandatory residential fire sprinkler codes for all new construction. (6)
Your local firefighters will risk their lives to try to save you, your children, your home, and your cherished position. But, as hard as we try we can’t save you. You must have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside and inside each bed room and you must close the bedroom doors when sleeping. A closed door helps reduce the spread of smoke and heat giving you more time to survive. If you live in the 48 state that do not have mandatory residential fire sprinkler codes you need to have your state and local jurisdictions adopted the new codes.
When a citizen dies in a fire it is not an act of God and when a firefighter is killed it is not part of the job, something went wrong. We can all do better at preventing and surviving fire.