The number of building fires in Urbana is down from the year before, but in more than half the fire deaths across the state, the home either didn't have a smoke alarm or it wasn't working. It's a quick change which can make a big difference.
"We would like for everybody to check their smoke detectors and replace the batteries. As firefighters, we have minimum staffing of people in downstate Illinois. Trying to get people to your home quickly is the goal."
The goal is attainable, but a working smoke detector gives you the chance to get out safely even before firefighters get there.
"With minimum staffing that we have, we need to put our efforts to putting the fire out. As soon as we have to put our efforts to rescuing people, all that fire grows because we don't have enough people to do both at the same time."
State fire marshals say more than 2,000 structure fires were reported last year in Illinois. In more than 350 of them, smoke alarms alerted the people inside.
Firefighters say a fire can double in size every 60 seconds. Changing your batteries when you change clocks can save those precious moments.
"We go out and try to hit almost every home in the city every year, reminding everybody to check their smoke detectors. We offer to put in batteries, or we offer to put in or replace smoke detectors as needed."
There are plenty of ways to check your smoke detector. One of these is Smoke in a Can.
"It's the best way to check a smoke detector."
The beeping noise on a smoke detector says the batteries are working. Smoke in a Can checks the sensors. It alerts you when there's a fire.
"If you have disarmed your smoke detector, please put it in as promptly as possible. You should never undo your smoke detector or pull out the battery."
Assistant Chief Russell Chism says safety is the number one priority.
"The purpose of this is we would like you to be notified as soon as possible something is going on in your home."
Starting at the end of March or early April, the Urbana Fire Department will go door-to-door to each home in the area, replacing smoke detectors and checking batteries. They remind people to treat carbon monoxide detectors the same way and make sure they're working as well.
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