LANDOVER – On Jan. 1, 2018 several new laws will go into effect in the state of Maryland, as well as in Prince George's County.
One of the new laws will require homeowners or renters to replace any battery-only operated smoke alarm that is more than 10 years old with a unit powered by a 10-year sealed-in battery having a “hush” button feature. The new state law will require them to install 10-year alarms on each floor of the house, primarily just outside bedrooms and kitchen areas.
“Having a working smoke alarm in your house provides residents a 50 percent chance of surviving a fire,” said Mark Brady, spokesperson for Prince George's County Fire Department. “We also encourage homeowners and renters to also install carbon monoxide alarms in your home as well.”
Over the last few years, four out of five county fire deaths occurred in homes where there was no working smoke alarm.
In February of 2013, two adults and two children died in a house fire in the 8600 block of Leslie Avenue in Glenarden. During the search, firefighters located the four victims unconscious, not breathing and pulse less. Investigators determined the house did not have a working smoke alarm.
After a fatal fire occurs in Prince George's County, firefighters will revisit neighborhoods within 24 hours and go door-to-door checking to see if homes have a working smoke alarm.
“Out of 10 homes visited by firefighters, we will find six with a working smoke alarm, two with a working smoke alarm but with dead batteries, and two without a smoke alarm,” Brady said.
If firefighters find a house without a working smoke alarm they do not issue a citation or a correction order to the homeowner or renter. They can only emphasize how important it is having a working smoke alarm.
“The fire department has a program that provides free smoke alarms to residents in the county,” Brady said. “We can also have firefighters go to a house and install a smoke alarm at no cost.”
Residents can obtain a free smoke alarm by calling 311 (the county’s non-emergency number) and, if needed, they can schedule a visit by the fire department to install a smoke alarm.