WASHINGTON – The District of Columbia Fire Department and Emergency Medical Service offered to install fire alarms in the homes of Colombia Heights and Parkview residents for free after an 81-year-old woman died an unknown man was injured in a blaze and in the northwest Washington neighborhoods.
The fatal fire occurred earlier this month in the 1000 block of Kenyon Street.
Alysia Taylor, chief of staff for the DCFD and EMS, made the offer recently during an Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting for the northwest Washington neighborhoods. The free alarms are part of the A’Sia Sutton Smoke Alarm Giveaway and Installation Program.
“The program allows all residents in the district to receive a free fire alarm and installation,” Taylor told those gathered at the meeting. “It was important for us to come out to this community and offer residents help with fire prevention.”
It is standard practice for DC Fire & EMS to visit communities that have been affected by fires, Taylor said. Additionally, Inspector Thomas Burr, a 23-year veteran, gave residents fundamental tips on fire safety.
“A lot of fire code violations are behavioral,” Burr said, “things like unmanageable storage, faulty electrical appliances, extension cords without surge protectors and so on. We try to be proactive, so that loss of life and property will be minimized.”
Burr also encouraged residents to monitor their smoke alarms. It remains imperative to have a dual smoke/carbon monoxide alarm on each floor of a home, he said. Families should also have an escape plan as well as a distinguished meeting place, he added.
“We only install fire alarms through the program, however, we encourage residents, if they can to purchase the dual alarms, and we will install those free of charge,” he said.
Burr warned the residents not to make the same mistake as Rodney Todd, a single father who was found dead with his seven children of carbon monoxide poisoning in their Princess Anne, Md., home. Todd was using a generator to heat the home after the electrical power in the hoe was shut off, police said.
“That is why it is important to get the dual fire alarms,” Burr said. “These alarms work even if the home has no power, because it is battery operated.” We’re all about prevention. We want to arrive on the scene before the fire.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that between1999 – 2010 there were an average of 430 deaths each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning, and the National Fire Protection Association reports that between 2007 and 2011, home fires caused an average of 2,570 deaths annually.
Johnny Williams, 64, does not have a need for a free smoke detector, but as president of a seniors’ apartment building, he has concerns for his residents who are hearing impaired.
“My concerns are about the elderly and seniors who suffer from loss of hearing – and who won’t be able to hear the beeping,” Williams said. “I would like for the fire alarm program to include LED fire alarms that flash when it is going off.”