After Fatal Fire, HFD Preaching Smoke Alarms

This week's fatal house fire at a home in northeast Houston has fire officials again letting residents know how important functioning smoke alarms are. They're cheap or even free and can save lives, from Houston's lowest income neighborhoods all the way to River Oaks.

"Houston Fire Department."

In Houston's Settegast neighborhood just off the East Loop near North Wayside, Houston Firefighter Albert Bennett is knocking on doors, trying to save lives.

"Yes sir. We want to make sure you're safe so we gave some information and we also wanted to make sure you have a working smoke detector. You check it?" 

This man has them, but many homes in the area don't. Investigators don't know for sure yet, but they suspect the nearby home that burned didn't have a functioning smoke alarm. Two people died in that fire and Bennett says that didn't need to happen.

"It's your only line of defense for a fire, is a smoke alarm. If you don't have one, there's no way you will probably be alerted unless you can see the fire."

Bennett says it's common for homes in low income areas to be without smoke alarms, but he says it happens in the nicer areas of Houston too. 

"The one thing we want to make sure that you understand, that this could be you. I know that you have the new system in your house , the burglar alarm system or whatever the case may be, but there's still the possibility of that house catching on fire. It could be a $10,000 house or a $10 million house. The possibility of it catching fire are still there."

He says there's no reason to not have a working smoke alarm in your home.

"We want to make sure that if you don't have one, you can go to any city of Houston fire station and request a smoke detector and we will give it to you free of charge. If you need assistance with it being installed, we can do that also."

The Houston Fire Department says more than 30-percent of homes and apartments that catch fire don't have functioning smoke alarms. 

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...