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Smoke alarms save lives


December 12, 2017 Letters to the Editor

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On Saturday, firefighters from Butler City and the Department of Veterans Affairs worked together to save the life of a city resident who became trapped in a burning residence in Butler.

As a well-developed fire pumped toxic smoke and superheated gasses upstairs from the kitchen below, the three occupants of the house were asleep, unaware of the dire situation developing below.

Two occupants narrowly escaped on their own and one occupant became trapped. The Butler City and Veterans Affairs fire departments arrived and quickly sent crews of firefighters into the building.

One crew worked to extinguish the fire on the first floor and another searched for the trapped occupant. The unconscious occupant was located on the second floor and was carried to safety by firefighters.

Butler City is fortunate to have paid firefighters that were able to respond to this incident swiftly. Congratulations to the professional firefighters of the Butler City and Veterans Affairs fire departments on a job well done.

In my experience investigating fires through the years, I have found a common thread in nearly all fires occurring during nighttime hours which resulted in serious injuries or fatalities: No working smoke alarms were found.

For a variety of reasons, the use of smoke alarms is often overlooked. They are, however, critically important. Smoke alarms buy occupants, especially sleeping occupants, the time needed to safely escape. Tragedies can be averted by having a properly installed smoke alarm.

I encourage everybody to be an advocate for the use of smoke alarms. Check your house. Check the homes of the elderly around you. Check the homes of those you know with young children. If they do not have a properly functioning smoke alarm, see to it that they get one. If you cannot afford a smoke alarm, check with your local fire department or the American Red Cross to see if you qualify to have a smoke alarm installed for free through their Western Pennsylvania Home Fire Campaign.

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