E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety Reminds Michigan Residents: Hear the Beep Where You Sleep. Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm!

Location matters when it comes to your smoke alarm. That’s the message behind this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep. Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm!”

Along with firefighters and safety advocates nationwide, E.S.C.A.P.E. is joining forces with the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) during Fire Prevention Week, October 4-10, to remind local residents about the importance of having working smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement.

“In a fire, seconds count,” said Firefighter Michael McLeieer, President of E.S.C.A.P.E. “Half of home fire deaths result from fires reported at night between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep. Home smoke alarms can alert people to a fire before it spreads, giving everyone enough time to get out.”

According to the latest national research, working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a fire in half. Meanwhile, three out of five fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign includes the following smoke alarm messages:

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. This way, when one sounds, they all do.
  • Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old or sooner if they don’t respond properly.
  • Make sure everyone in the home knows the sound of the smoke alarm and understands what to do when they hear it.
  • If the smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside. Go to your outside meeting place.
  • Call the fire department from outside the home.

West Michigan Fire Department’s will be hosting free events to highlight fire safety during Fire Prevention Week to promote “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep. Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm!” Through these educational, family-oriented activities, residents can learn more about the importance of having a working smoke alarm in every bedroom.  A complete listing of area fire safety events may be found here.

To learn more about smoke alarms and “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep. Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm!” visit NFPA’s Web site at www.firepreventionweek.org and www.sparky.org/fpw or www.escapeinc.org.



When a tragic fire happens, communities come together to address fire safety.  But what if there was a way for communities to work together before a fire broke out, to help save property and lives before they were lost?

Operation Save A Life is a free smoke and carbon monoxide installation program in select communities across West Michigan.  The program can make a big difference in reducing deaths and injuries in a fire or during carbon monoxide incidents.

Smoke alarms are the life-saving success story of the past 30 years.  However each year, three out of five homes in the United States result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Here is a list of some of the area smoke alarm installation programs across West Michigan:

Allegan County:

Dorr Township Fire Department – 616-681-9874
Fennville Area Fire Department – 269-561-2148
Graafschap Fire and Rescue – 616-396-4060
Salem Township Fire – 616-292-7789


Coldwater Fire Department – 517-278-4177


Battle Creek Fire Department – 269-966-3519


Olivet Fire Department – 269-492-3340


Allendale Fire Department – 616-895-6295, ext. 30
Grand Rapids Fire Department – 616-456-3966
Walker Fire Department – 616-791-6840


Home Township Fire Department (Edmore) – 989-400-1975


Muskegon Charter Township Fire Department – 231-773-4316
Norton Shores Fire Department – 231-799-6809

For more information on fire safety or to find a smoke alarm installation program near your community, email escape@wotv4women.com.



When was the last time you checked your smoke alarm? Since January 1, Michigan ranked #2 in the country for home fire deaths. These deaths have occurred in homes that did not have working smoke alarms. E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety reminds you that properly installed and maintained smoke alarms on every level of your home are the only mitigation devices that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whether you’re awake or asleep, a working smoke alarm is constantly on alert, scanning the air for fire and smoke.

Take the opportunity when you “spring ahead” on Sunday March 8 to test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and replace the batteries as needed.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

There are many different brands of smoke alarms available on the market, but they fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric.

It cannot be stated definitively that one is better than the other in every fire situation that could arise in a residence. Because both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different, yet potentially fatal fires, and because no one can predict what type of fire might start in a home, the United States Fire Administration recommends that every residence and place where people sleep be equipped with:

  • Both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms, OR
  • dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors

In addition to the basic types of alarms, there are alarms made to meet the needs of people with hearing disabilities. These alarms may use strobe lights that flash and/or vibrate to assist in alerting those who are unable to hear standard smoke alarms when they sound.

Smoke alarms are powered by a battery or they are hardwired into the home’s electrical system. If the smoke alarm is powered by battery, it runs on either a disposable 9-volt battery or a non-replaceable 10-year lithium (“long-life”) battery. A backup battery is usually present on hardwired alarms and may need to be replaced.

These batteries must be tested on a regular basis and, in most cases, should be replaced at least once each year (except for lithium batteries).

Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement. Many fatal fires begin late at night or early in the morning, so the U.S. Fire Administration recommends installing smoke alarms both inside and outside of sleeping areas.

Since smoke and many deadly gases rise, installing your smoke alarms at the proper level will provide you with the earliest warning possible. Always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Smoke alarms are not expensive and are worth the lives they can help save. Ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms cost between $6 and $20. Dual sensor smoke alarms cost between $24 and $40.

Some fire departments offer reduced price, or even free, smoke alarms and may install battery operated smoke alarms in your home at no cost. Contact your local fire department’s non-emergency phone number for more information or e-mail escape@wotv4women.com for more details on a smoke alarm installation program close to Where You Live!

For more information regarding fire safety and smoke alarms including maintenance and suggested replacement guidelines, please visit the U.S. Fire Administration’s Smoke Alarms website.


WOTV 4 Women is proud to team up with several West Michigan fire departments, Kidde, ESCAPE Fire Safety and The Home Depot for Operation Save a Life- a collective commitment to promote fire and carbon monoxide safety.

Throughout the month of March WOTV 4 Women is airing fire safety and carbon monoxide poisoning prevention messages.  If you’re interested in having a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector installed in your home ESCAPE Fire Safety can help connect you with an area fire department. Email escape@wotv4women.com for more information.

As part of Operation Save a Life, Kidde along with and The Home Depot, will be donating thousands of Kidde-brand smoke detectors and CO alarms to participating Fire Departments for distribution to homes in their communities.  Home Depot will also be hosting Save a Life Saturday Events on March 7th, 2015 .  Their team of experts will be answering all your safety questions and giving  fire prevention tips so you can keep your family safe. See list below for participating Home Depot locations.

Save A Life Saturday Events










Elliott Jones | Team Firestoppers Project Manager – (269-353-6180 ext. 7183)


Firefighter Michael McLeieer | E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety (269-492-3340)

Email:  wotv@escapeinc.org


Team Firestoppers of Southwest Michigan is a home fire (mitigation) project launched by the American Red Cross using AmeriCorps members.  Its goal is to reduce the impact of fire incidents in high risk areas of our community by providing proactive awareness and education and increase preparedness for children and families.

Fire Facts:

    • 7 times a day, someone in this country dies in a home fire.
    • There are between 360,000 and 400,000 home fires reported each year in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
    • Over the past 2 years, Michigan has seen its highest rate of civilian fire deaths not seen since 1999.
    • Most of the homes where fire fatalities occurred, there were not working smoke alarms present.
    • Working smoke alarms double the chances of surviving a dwelling fire.
    • 62% of Americans believe they have at least five minutes to escape a burning home.
    • FACT:       A family may only have 2-3 minutes to escape a burning home and survive.


Some of the key components of the project include:

  • Conducting a community risk assessment to determine which neighborhoods have experienced the greatest number of fires.
  • Meet with families and review fire prevention information and provide a safety checklist.
  • Work with families to create a written emergency escape plan that can be tailored to the individual’s home.
  • Educate families and show them ways to eliminate risky behavior around fire.

What can you do to protect you and loved ones:

  • Make sure there is a working smoke alarm on every level of the home and test them every month. (and replace the batteries at least once a year)
  • Every household should develop a fire escape plan and practice it several times a year and at different times of the day.
  • Include two ways to get out of every room and consider escape ladders for sleeping areas or homes on the second floor or above.
  • Pick a place outside for everyone to meet and make sure everyone knows where it is.
  • Practice that home fire drill until everyone in the household can do it in less than two minutes.



Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery

Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery

Throughout October, we have shared tips to keep your family safe from fire.

On Sunday, November 2, it’s time to change your smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries when you change your clock back one hour from Daylight Saving Time.

Families are encouraged to use the extra hour “gained” from the end of daylight saving time to review and practice their home fire safety plan and remind their friends, family and neighbors of the life-saving habit of testing and changing smoke alarm batteries.

Working smoke alarms double the chance of a family surviving a home fire and/or an unsafe carbon monoxide level.

Remember, when the smoke or carbon monoxide alarm sound, Get Out and Stay Out and then call 911 from the designated meeting place.

Sometimes saving a life can be that simple – Change Your Clock Change Your Battery® Where You Live!



Smoke alarms are vital resources in any home, but especially where children live. 2013 ended as the worst year for civilian fire deaths in Michigan that we haven’t seen since 1999. The rise in fire fatalities occurred in homes that didn’t have working smoke alarms. Sometimes the smoke alarm battery is removed because of a nuisance alarm (caused by cooking or steam from the shower), or when the smoke alarm “chirps” due to a low battery. These loud and unexpected noises often scare young children.

My friends from E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire & Safety offer these tips to introduce the sound of a smoke alarm and talk about fire safety to children early and often:

  • Talk about fire safety with your kids in their home, where they feel secure. It’s never too early to begin discussions about who firefighters are, what a family escape map is, and how and when to go to a neighbor’s house during a fire or smoke emergency.
  • Practice home fire drills on a regular basis. This can decrease anxiety and allow children to respond calmly.
  • Teach children that the smoke alarm gives an early warning so everyone can get out of the house safely.
  • Begin to practice by pretending the alarm has gone off, and have the child leave the house quickly and calmly.
  • Next, place a pillow over the alarm, or place duct tape or electrical tape over the horn of the smoke alarm to muffle the sound. Press the test button to activate the alarm and introduce the softer sound to the child.
  • Once the child is comfortable with the softer sound of the smoke alarm, remove the tape and allow him or her to hear the actual sound.
  • Set the alarm off on purpose and practice leaving the house again.
  • During fire drills, practice leaving the house from different rooms so children get used to doing so.
  • Practice a fire drill at night, after children have gone to sleep since some children may sleep through the sound of a smoke alarm.

If your child’s fear about the smoke alarm continues, especially when it’s activated in school, have a short meeting with your child’s teacher to explain the issue. The teacher may be able to devote extra class time to discussions about what happens during a fire drill. Often when students have the chance to talk about their smoke alarm fears with their classmates, they will realize it’s not as scary as it seems.

Finally, some children with a form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience sensory overload and may not be able to initially handle high-pitched noises, such as the sound of a smoke alarm. The blaring noise may prevent the child from thinking or comprehending the appropriate action to take and cause him or her to freeze or hide. A scared child won’t be able to learn and may not remember what to do during an emergency.  Again, to introduce children with ASD to the sound of a smoke alarm, try placing a pillow or heavy tape over the horn. Once the test button is depressed, the sound level emitted during the drill will be reduced and the child won’t experience pain and will less likely to become scared. There are even smoke alarms available where a parent can record their own voice into the alarm. During an alarm activation the parent’s voice will speak to the child alerting him or her to Get Out and Stay Out during fire or smoke conditions.

With lots of patience, positive reinforcement and encouragement, you can teach children ways to reduce the anxiety and fear from the sound of a smoke alarm. They will understand what to do and where to go during fire or smoke conditions.


Did you know that many people don’t test their smoke alarms as often as they should?  Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan.  When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast.  You need working smoke alarms to give you early warning so you can get outside quickly.

Facts About Home Fires

  • According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to 370,000 home structure fires. These fires caused 13,910 civilian injuries, 2,520 civilian deaths, and $6.9 billion in direct damage.
  • On average, seven people died in U.S. home fires per day from 2007 to 2011.
  • Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, followed by heating equipment.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of civilian home fire deaths.
  • Most fatal fires kill one or two people. In 2012, eight home fires killed five or more people resulting in a total of 44 deaths.

Smoke Alarms

  • Almost three of five (60%) of reported home fire deaths throughout the U.S. from 2007 to 2011 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in reported home fires in half.
  • In fires considered large enough to activate the smoke alarm, hardwired alarms operated 93% of the time, while battery powered alarms operated only 79% of the time.
  • When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing, disconnected, or dead.
  • An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires.  For the best protection, or where extra time is needed, to awaken or assist others, both types of alarms, or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms are recommended.

Safety Tips

  • Install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home, including in the basement.
  • Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  • It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least ten feet from the stove.
  • People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are ten years old.

E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire & Safety, State Fire Marshal Richard Miller, and your local fire department remind you to plan ahead!  If a fire breaks out in your home, you may have only a few minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds.  Everyone needs to know what to do and where to go including the location of the meeting place once outside.