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Smoke detectors crucial in preventing fire-related deaths

Fire officials are trying to combat a spike in fire deaths by emphasizing the importance of smoke detectors.
March 7, 2014 12:18:10 PM PST
It's been a deadly year so far for residential fires in Los Angeles County. Many of those deaths are being blamed on broken or missing smoke alarms. Fire officials are hoping to stop that trend.

City leaders kicked off a new campaign on Friday to raise awareness about the importance of working smoke alarms.

We're just about three months into 2014, and fire-related deaths are soaring in the city limits. There have been 11 so far, and the common link - smoke alarms that were no longer working or were never present to begin with. There were 20 such deaths in all of 2013.

"We're looking for a common theme, perhaps something like hoarding, but certainly, the effective use of smoke alarms has not been seen in any of these fire-related deaths," said L.A. City Fire Chief James Featherstone at a Friday press conference.

To combat the problem, city and county fire fighters, Los Angeles Unified School District officials and My SafeLA are kicking off a comprehensive educational campaign aimed at getting more people to install and maintain smoke alarms. The effort is called the "Fire Burns. Smoke Kills" Smoke Alarm campaign.

"Something like this saves lives," said Los Angeles Councilmember Tom LaBonge, as he pointed to a smoke detector. "These chiefs want you to remember - get a smoke detector. Get a smoke detector to give a chance. Any chance you have to beat the devil is important, and the devil is fire."

The city of Los Angeles is also getting involved by setting up a hotline that will allow residents to phone in potential fire hazards in their communities. Specifically, the program is aimed at hoarders.

"Folks that know of a hoarding incident in a neighborhood to let the city know, so we can get involved and offer mental health services and do some outreach to these cases," said Los Angeles Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell.

Fires are bound to happen, and people will die. But in an age where something as simple as a smoke detector can provide warning, there is no reason for it to happen as often as it has this year.

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