News | Sept. 13, 2016

Fire safety: useful tips

By 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department

It’s 2 a.m., and your family are sound asleep. You are awakened by a smell of smoke coming from the hallway. Tired and confused from the effects of the smoke, you know you need to get to safety, but you and your family are trapped inside the bedrooms because the fire started while everyone was asleep. Why did the smoke detectors not sound?

Statistics show that many people experience this scenario every day.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep.  Three out of five fire deaths happen 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 2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 367,500 home structure fires.  These fires caused 2,745 deaths, 11,825 injuries, and $6.8 billion in direct damage.  In fires considered large enough to activate the smoke alarm, hardwired alarms operated 94% of the time, while battery powered alarms operated 80% of the time.

Joint Base Langley-Eustis Fire Department is teaming up with NFPA during Fire Prevention Week, October 9-15, 2016, to urge residents to “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years”.  This year’s theme focuses on smoke alarm replacement comes as the result of a recent survey conducted by NFPA, which showed that only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are or how often they need to be replaced.

Smoke detectors play a vital role in home fire safety, but they have to be working properly. People think they are safe because smoke detectors are in their homes. However, it takes regular testing to ensure everything is working properly.  Part of that effort is making sure you know how old the smoke alarms in your home are, and recommend that they’re replaced every 10 years.  The age of a smoke alarm can be determined by looking for the date of manufacture on the back or side of the alarm, and to replace the units 10 years from that date.

Helpful tips concerning smoke detectors are:

·         Test the power of the detector to ensure it’s working

·         Check the smoke sensor to make sure the unit is working correctly

·         Test detectors at least once each month

·         Clean the detector

·         Insert new batteries twice each year

·         Replace the smoke detector ever 10 years or if malfunction occurs.

JBLE Fire Department will be hosting our annual fire station open house as well as several other appearances around base during Fire Prevention Week to promote “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years”.  Through these educational, family-oriented activities, residents can learn more about maintaining or replacing their home smoke detectors, as well as the power of prevention.

To find out more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities on JBLE, please contact the Langley AFB Fire Department at 764-4222 or email  or contact Ft Eustis Fire Department at 878-3131 ext 321.  To learn more about “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years” visit NFPA’s Web site at

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