Fire Prevention Week: Smoke Detectors, an Essential First Step
by Peter Thorpe
Have you ever forgotten to turn off your stove?
Well, you’re not alone. As a firefighter in the Provo, Utah, fire department for more than eight years, it has been my experience that most home fires start in the kitchen. And independent data backs this up. Every 4.5 minutes, a stove fire is reported. Cooking on an electric stove is the #1 cause of home fires in the US, leading to 500 deaths and 5,000 injuries from these fires every year. The average cost of a stove fire for a homeowner is over $6,000 and it’s not uncommon for an individual fire to reach into the 10’s of thousands of dollars
For whatever reason—forgetfulness, neglect, absentmindedness or distraction—it is a fact that people leave their stoves on when they should be turned off, leading to fires.
The apartment property owner or manager’s nightmare
While this should be of concern to all homeowners, it is particularly important in multi-family dwellings such as apartments and condominiums where the proximity of structures and the density of occupants multiplies the risk to health and safety. Apartment owners and managers know this well. Consider:
- 60% of all apartment fires involve cooking equipment – specifically stove fires;
- fire-related property damage is expected to reach $1 billion this year;
- apartments have a 1 in 20 chance of a cooking fire this year.
A single kitchen fire can menace hundreds, even thousands of residents, and can lead to displacement of residents, lengthy business disruptions and increased insurance costs.
Fire Prevention Week (October 5-11) provides an excellent opportunity to consider not only how we should pay attention in the kitchen, but also to review the safety equipment that we have access to in order to prevent damage and injuries from kitchen fires.
As firefighters, we very much appreciate the value of smoke alarms. They are crucial safeguards that can minimize the extent of fire damage and help to protect residents from injuries and even death due to fire.
Yet smoke alarms are useful only if people can hear them and respond appropriately. When smoke alarms go off a fire may already be in progress. And if the homeowners have left home, or even stepped out on the patio to interact with guests, the fire can spread quickly to other parts of the house, causing extensive damage, even when fire department responds as quickly as possible.
Stopping the stove fire before it starts
Having responded to hundreds of kitchen fires I began to regularly ponder this dilemma. Then one day, en route to yet another fire, I could see the header of smoke on the horizon. On arrival we found a large apartment complex with smoke bellowing from the structure and occupants fleeing for safety. As we pulled our hoses and forced open the door with the ax, flames and black smoke rolled out of the doorway. Tenants in nearby apartments were coughing as they fled their homes for safety. They watched helplessly as the fire spread towards their apartments. Like many other apartment fires, this tragedy was caused by unattended cooking.
The solution? Fire Avert
It was a scene like this that motivated me to search for a solution to prevent stove fires. Fire Avert is that solution. Unlike smoke alarms, which can only alert you to smoke, Fire Avert actually shuts off the stove automatically when smoke is detected, but before it becomes a fire. It is a true fire prevention device.
Click here to view a video demonstration of Fire Avert’s effectiveness when compared to a smoke alarm without Fire Avert.
Fire Avert is a revolutionary stove fire prevention device that can be installed in any home with no tools or professional assistance in less than ten minutes. Along with other firefighters and engineers, I developed the product to be the first Automatic Safety Stove Shut-Off device that turns off the stove when your smoke alarm is activated.
As firefighters, we’ve seen close up the pain and devastation that a seemingly “innocent” stove fire can create. Smoke detectors are an essential first step, but have their limitations, as do all of us as human beings. Fire Avert offers an ‘intelligent” solution that provides a greater sense of security, peace of mind and the knowledge that you are helping to safeguard your family, friends and neighbors.
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