Orange fire marshal issues tips on blazes, smoke alarms

ORANGE >> The fire marshal’s office has issued tips on fires and for installing, testing and maintaining smoke alarms.

Unless an alarm has 10-year batteries, change the batteries at least twice a year. Replacing the batteries at Daylight Saving Time, this year Nov. 6, when clocks are changed, is a helpful reminder.

Smoke alarms save lives. The chance of dying in a home fire is cut nearly in half by having a functioning smoke alarm.

As the majority of these fires occur at night, many people believe they will be awakened by the smell of smoke, but the poisonous gases and smoke can numb the senses and cause a deeper sleep.

An alarm can alert occupants to the presence of a fire and allow for an escape.

For help with changing batteries in an alarm or installing a battery-powered detector, call the office at 203-891-4711, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The following tips were issued for Fire Prevention Week, with the theme, “Don’t Wait — Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.”

• Choose an alarm that bears the label of a recognized testing laboratory.

An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires, and a photo-electric smoke alarm is usually more responsive to smoldering fires.

For the best protection, both types of alarms or a combination, should be installed.

• Place smoke alarms on every level, including the basement, and outside all sleeping areas.

For added safety, install smoke alarms in every bedroom, as well as rooms where sofas or futons may be used for guests or for a child’s sleepover.

Since smoke rises, alarms should be mounted on a wall at 4-12 inches from the ceiling and 4 inches from the nearest wall. For a vaulted ceiling, install at the highest point.

• Test the alarm every month. Use the test button or an approved smoke substitute. Clean the units according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

If the home has a central monitoring system, test it as directed by the company. Do not use an open-flame device.

Replace smoke alarms every 10 years to protect against failure. They may work when tested, but the older models can be less reliable.

To determine the age of an alarm, look at the date of manufacture on the back. If an alarm “chirps” to indicate a low battery, change it as soon as possible. Do not disable the alarm by “borrowing” the batteries for other uses or because of nuisance activations from cooking or bathroom steam.

• Never paint over a smoke alarm.

• Special alarms, with a strobe or flashing light and audible alarm, are available for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Vibrating devices may also be helpful.

When sleeping, be sure that the alarm will rouse all family members and have someone who is easily awakened assigned to wake the others, maybe by yelling “Fire” or pounding on doors or walls.

There are also alarms available that include the ability to record a voice announcement.

• It is important to have and practice a home escape plan. Everyone should know two ways out of each room. A meeting place, outside the home, should be determined. By preparing, the family will respond more calmly, feel more secure and act more quickly in an emergency.

• Never hesitate to call 911 and alert the Fire Department if the alarm is activated, even if you cannot see or smell smoke. Smoke alarms are made to detect small, trace amounts of smoke and to provide an early warning of a fire.

• For information on fire safety and prevention, go, and