Firefighters find 'unusually high amount' of homes without smoke alarms

Firefighters find 'unusually high amount' of homes without smoke alarms

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - An unusually high amount of fires in homes where there's not a working smoke detector has been keeping Columbus first responders busy in recent weeks.

It was the case again at a house fire off the 2600 block of Garden Drive Tuesday morning, when firefighters found no working smoke detector there as well.

The colder weather means more and more people use portable space heaters in homes across the Valley, which increases your chance of a home fire if used improperly. Fire officials add that the problem with missing smoke detectors is making the situation even worse.

While there were no injuries in Tuesday's fire, not having a working smoke alarm could put you and your family in a potentially deadly situation.

"One recently where the family was sleeping when the fire took place and luckily a next door neighbor had to wake them, could have had disastrous results," said Columbus Fire Marshal Ricky Shores as he explained the influx of home fires his department has responded to that lacked fire alarms.

The National Fire Protection Association reports about five million homes across the country do not have any smoke alarms, adding that the death rate for home fires were more than twice as high in homes with no working smoke alarms in 2015.

Red Cross officials are working to install more smoke alarms across the Valley in an effort to save homes and lives. Executive Director of the West-Central Georgia Red Cross, Adelaide Kirk, said, "We go out and canvas at risk neighborhoods, to see if they're prepared for what is the most common disaster which is a home fire, to see if they have working smoke detectors, do they have enough, are the batteries working?"

Red Cross officials are gearing up to do just that on both Jan. 23 and Feb. 20 to help tackle the problem. The smoke alarm installations are free for any family home in need.  Red Cross administrators are looking for volunteers to do that work in at-risk neighborhoods. You can visit their website here for more information.

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