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Fire Department Report

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by Kurt Evers

The Riverdale Fire Department would like to thank residents for their diligence in keeping hydrants clear of snow in the recent storms.

April 2nd this year marks an important day to remember--the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. The time when we all adjust our clocks one hour ahead. It is also the time we ask everyone to change the batteries in your smoke alarm.

Regarding smoke alarms, we would like to offer the following statistics and advice:

Although 13 of every 14 homes have at least one smoke alarm, almost half of home fires and three-fifths of fire deaths occur in homes with no alarm. Thousands of people still die each year in home fires where smoke alarms aren't present.

In addition, there are now more homes with smoke alarms that don't work than homes without alarms at all. These poorly maintained units create a false sense of security among occupants. About one third of homes with smoke alarms that experience a fire have alarms that aren't working causing hundreds of deaths each year.

Tragically, the importance of installing and maintaining alarms has not been fully realized. Working smoke alarms alert people to fire and give them time to escape when minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

By properly placing, regularly testing and maintaining your alarms, you can ensure that they are working and will alert you if a fire breaks out. Make sure you buy only those alarms that bear the mark of an independent testing laboratory. All tested and labeled smoke alarms offer adequate protection if properly installed and maintained.

NFPA's National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72) says homes must have smoke alarms on every

level - including the basement - and outside each sleeping area. New homes are required to have a smoke alarm in each sleeping area as well.

Since smoke and deadly gases rise, alarms should be placed on the ceiling at least 4 inches from the nearest wall, or high on a wall, 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling. This 4-inch minimum is important to keep alarms out of possible "dead air" spaces. Installing alarms near a window, door or fireplace is not recommended.

Maintain your smoke alarms by:

  • Testing them once a month to make sure they are operating. Test each alarm by pushing the test button and listening for the alarm.

  • If your smoke alarms are battery operated, replace the batteries according to manufacturer instructions. Replace the batteries immediately if you move into a new home. Make sure no one disables your alarms by borrowing batteries for other uses.

  • Your smoke alarms need to be cleaned-- cobwebs and dust can be removed with a vacuum cleaner attachment. Also, shield the alarm if you are painting around it, and never paint on it.

  • Smoke alarms are cost effective. A battery operated smoke alarm for the home retails for less than $10. Batteries cost $1 to $2, depending on the brand. Special smoke alarms for people with hearing impairments may be obtained by contacting the county fire department @ 301-883-7707.


Kurt Evers is the new Fire Chief for the Riverdale Fire Department. He is a career firefighter in Montgomery County.

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