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Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

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For immediate release: Alex Murphy
  Public Information Officer
Investigative Operations
Iowa Department of Public Safety
Thursday, January 3, 2013

(515) 443-3014 - cell
(515) 725-6189 - office


Des Moines, IOWA --- While 42 lives have been lost to fire in Iowa for the year ending 2012, a record number of lives were saved when working smoke alarms alerted 217 people to a fire taking over their home.

The Iowa State Fire Marshal would like to remind Iowans of the importance of having working smoke alarms in your home.  Almost all of the people saved by a smoke alarm were sleeping during night-time hours. It was a smoke alarm that activated in the middle of the night, warning of a home fire.  State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds says, “Relying on Lady Luck is not a good fire prevention plan.  A smoke alarm does not rely on luck to wake a person during a fire.” 

Taking a look at 2012,  one of the most noteworthy stories of lives saved by working smoke detectors originated January 9th:

"This morning 1-9-12 at 3:12 am, an adult couple was sleeping in their home in Denison, Iowa. Standing guard in the living room and in each bedroom were ionization smoke alarms with fresh batteries.  When the electrical fire started around 3 am this couple was fast asleep.  The smoke alarm woke them up early enough to get out of the house and call 911.  The fire department arrived and a smoky haze was around the house. As you can see a three prong adapter started to burn.  A charred three-prong electrical adapter.

"What a different story this would be if there were no smoke alarms standing guard.  As such this family gets the distinction of being the first 2 lives saved by smoke alarms for the New Year and they will get a complete set of dual sensor smoke alarms installed by their fire department."

Fires often start small so advance warning helps save lives and reduce property damage.  Iowa has recorded $20,000,000 in property loss from fires where smoke alarms were properly working. When no smoke alarm was present, property loss hit $46,000,000. 

The State Fire Marshal Division would like to thank the more than 200 fire departments that have contributed to the installation of over 33,500 smoke alarms in homes across Iowa since 2010. 

The number of lives saved by smoke alarm per year:

2010 = 146 lives saved 2011 = 186 lives saved  2012 = 217 lives saved



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