"Cigarette Smoking & Your Smoke Detector"

Check Your Battery...Or This Can Happen!!!

This is a story of a call we had a few weeks ago! It came in as a possible structure fire. When we arrived there was smoke coming from a second floor apartment. As firefighters check the door for the amount of heat, they tried to open the door. It was blocked by a bicycle. If a door is blocked and it's the only way in, there may be a person trapped or still in there! The team entered the apartment to find an awful lot of heat in it. There was a small fire to their left when they entered. We thought we heard a moan somewhere. We searched and found a person on the floor in the bedroom. The man was dragged from the apartment, carried down to ground level, and was then given first-aid [Oxygen]. The victim was at first having breathing problems,and had two minor burns on his shoulders, but started breathing easier on the O2. An ALS unit and Medic12 arrived on the sceen and took over responsibilities. He, the victim, was taken to the Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon, but was later airlifted by Life Flight to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville. He was in critical condition in the ICU unit for several weeks with severe smoke inhalation. The victim was drinking, and smoking. He was assumed to have dozed off, and the cigarette fell down in the cushion of the chair. He must have gone to bed, smelled the smoke, tried to get up but fell on the floor. That's where firefighters found him! Guess what?? He had taken the battery out of the smoke detector! Removing that battery almost cost him his life!!! Any human life, no matter who, is worth more then the cost of a nine [9] volt battery!

Below is a follow-up story with pictures taken during & after the investigation.

Take under consideration that this is a one bedroom apartment. As you walk in the door there is a little nook to your left with a small dinnette table , a chair, small portable TV, an electric heater, radio, and other small appliances. On your right is a small kitchenette. Ten[10] feet in from the door on your left is the bathroom. Walk straight in from the entrance door @ 20 feet is the entrance to the bedroom.

Here are some pictures for you to look at! Let me explain them to you. After you click on them remember to use your back button on your browser to return!
Pic #1
In order to save on electric payments the wall mounted thermostats were unscrewed, left hanging, and one wire was cut! This was done in the dinette area, and also in the bathroom. Click Here

Pic #2
This picture is of an electrical outlet directly below the thermostat you saw in Pic #1. See if you can count how many plugs are in this outlet!...hint: you almost run out of fingers to count on. The answer is tooooo tooooo many!Click Here

Pic #3
This picture is of the dinette area. Notice to the right of the picture is the outlet, and directly above is the thermostat you saw in the 2 previous pictures. Look beneath the TV on the floor; yes another portable electric heater! Look at the outlet near the lamp stand. Yes another overloaded outlet.Remember the lampstand as a reference to the next picture!Click Here

Pic #4
This picture is of the burnt chair. This small fire is what caused all the heat, and smoke damage? The lampstand is alongside of chair. Notice to the left of chair is the dinette table. Also standing against the table is the lense from the skylight!The melted portion was directly above the chair. The chair was the only actual "fire" damage. The gentleman must have fallen asleep and his cigarette fell down in the cushion of the chair.Click Here

Pic #5
In this picture I'm holding the skylight cover lense. Notice how it's melted directly over the most burnt part of the chair! A good indicator as to initial point of fire.Click Here

Pic #6
This picture was taken with the burnt chair removed. Look at the v-shaped pattern! The two markings on the wall were where some plastic pictures were hung from. You can see one of them on the floor in the right hand corner of the picture. The other one is on the table beside the Christmas treeClick Here

Pic #7
This picture is of the apartment looking from the dinette area. To the right is your kitchenette, the door you see to your left is the door to the bathroom. Straight ahead is the doorway to the bedroom. The victim was found on the floor at the foot of the bed and extending into the bedroom doorway. Notice how things are melting 3 feet down from the ceiling. Also notice above the bedroom door. Yep!! You guessed it! The famous batteryless smoke detector!! People...PLEASE! listen, they do not...I repeat DO NOT! work without batteries. Please keep a battery in them. A good time to change the battery is every New Year! Start of your New Years right. Put a new battery in your smoke detectors!! Please..I beg you!! THIS JUST MIGHT SAVE YOUR LIFE!!Click Here

Pic #8
This picture tells it all! The famous "batteryless that's supposed to let you know when there's a fire smoke detector!" Only problem is there is no such thing! They still need batteries to let you know something is wrong!Click Here

Pic #9
This picture was taken right outside of the bathroom. Bathroom doorway is to the right of the picture! Hey!! Look on the floor. Another portable electric heater! Notice the extension cord running under the carpet in the bathroom. Yep. the heater plugged in there too!Click Here

Pic #10
This picture was taken from inside the shower of the bathroom. And before you ask...NO! I was not taking one! Notice the plastic light cover and how it's melted! This is the other thermostat I was telling you about! Again it was unscrewed from the wall and a wire was cut! Notice the smoke level and how low it is.Click Here

Pic #11
This picture was taken from inside the bathroom again looking at the kitchenette area. Again, notice the smoke level, and how he had stuffed towels between the stove and cabinets. I guess he didn't bake too much!!Click Here

Pic #12
This picture was taken in the bedroom. Again notice the smoke level, especially look at his pillow in the middle of the bed! You can see the smoke fingers that came down along the wall hanging!! You guessed it..right at his head!! You can also see the smoke on his mattress. Talk about a lucky man!! The "Good Lord" was a watchin over him this night!!Click Here

Can you believe the small burn area of this one small chair caused all this smoke & heat damage? Well it did! Imagine what damage would occur had this fire spread more. Careless smoking caused this fire. The gentleman was saved!
Did a smoke detector save his life?? No it did not! There wasn't a battery in it! So what did? Some may say it wasn't his time to go. Others may say the Lord was watching over him. This may all be true, BUT, our fire station is only two[2] blocks away from his apartment! We were there in a few minutes after receiving the alarm. If this apartment was three miles away instead of two blocks... well I truly believe this man would not be alive today! A few minutes longer in responding would have made the difference between life and death!! So ,what did save him? #1 The quick responce time #2 The great job by our firefighters that pulled him out from the apartment! That's what saved him!!
Are YOU willing to take a chance with YOUR life and YOUR FAMILIES lives? Not everyone is LUCKY enough to have a fire company a block or two away from them! A battery in this smoke detector would have saved MANY minutes. He would have been out of his apartment by the time we got there!! Add minutes, hours, months, and years to your life!! Keep your smoke detector working properly ! Change your batteries atleast once a year! I hope I, or anyone else, never have to see pictures like this of YOUR place!!