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""This is a guest blog post from the Department of Fire Services.

No one thinks a fire will happen in their own home, but in 2014 in Massachusetts, there were more than 28,000 fires, which caused 54 civilian deaths, 308 civilian injuries, 437 firefighter injuries, two firefighter deaths, and $240 million in property damage.

Fire Prevention Week

Fire Prevention Week (FPW) is Oct. 4–10. This year’s FPW theme, “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep — Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm,” highlights the importance of having working smoke alarms in every home and testing them monthly.

Even though smoke alarms are only required in bedrooms of newly constructed one- and two-family homes in Massachusetts, they are recommended for everyone. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in fires in half by giving you time to escape.

Install and Maintain Smoke Alarms to Protect Your Family at Home

Almost half of all fire deaths occur in one- and two-family homes where, in many cases, there were no working smoke alarms. Make sure there are working smoke alarms on every level of the home and in the hallways outside of each sleeping area. Consider installing smoke alarms inside bedrooms, especially for smokers or heavy sleepers. Additionally, you should:

  • Test smoke alarms monthly.
  • Replace alkaline batteries twice a year when you change your clocks in March and November.
  • Replace all smoke alarms that are 10 years old or older. If the back of the alarm doesn’t have a date, replace it.

Develop a Home Escape Plan

Working smoke alarms provide an important early warning in the event of a fire, but you need to use the extra time well to escape. Make and practice a home fire escape plan so you can get everyone out quickly and safely in a fire. People, especially children, remember best when they have practiced.

Learn Smoke Alarm Requirements in Massachusetts

Smoke alarms are required on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area in all one- and two-family homes in Massachusetts. Houses built after 1997 must also have a smoke alarm inside every bedroom. Other specific requirements vary based on the size and the age of the home.

Landlords are required to have working smoke alarms installed in accordance with state fire and building code regulations. If you’re a renter:

  • Never disable smoke alarms.
  • Test them monthly.
  • Alert your landlord if they are not working.

If a battery-operated smoke alarm is not working, you should put a new battery in immediately. Do not go to sleep without the protection of a working smoke alarm.

Take some time this week to ensure you’re prepared for a fire. With properly installed, working smoke alarms throughout the house and an escape plan, your family can rest easy.

Tweet @DFSPIO or comment below with any questions about fire safety.

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