Betsy’s Corner: Fire Safety is Important!

This is ALARMING!!! (No pun intended) Many other residents have outdated models without the required carbon monoxide detectors on each floor. Recently, there have been two fires in Longmeadow with alarms that had dead batteries.

Safety comes first when you are a homeowner – and the law in Massachusetts mandates that functioning smoke detectors must be installed in every home on every floor. We installed all new smoke detectors and a heat detector in our attached garage in 2001. Technology has changed. While discussing this with Fire Chief John Dearborn recently, he suggested that Fire Lieutenant Carl Viera, the Fire Prevention Officer, come to our home and check our smoke alarms. I am glad I asked him to do this. Lieutenant Viera came to our home to inspect the smoke alarms we installed 18 years ago. They were wired but not up to date. All but one had working back‐up batteries.

He explained that we needed to connect all the alarms so they all sounded if only one detected smoke. He also suggested that we hire an electrician to ensure proper wiring and installation.

With a recommendation from a knowledgeable neighbor, I called an electrician and made an appointment bright and early. The day before the appointed time, a huge fire broke out in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

The fire was soon out of control due to the ancient timbers within the stone façade of the structure dating to 850 years ago. The age of my home seems insignificant compared to the medieval antique and unique nature of this French landmark. A home that dates from 1931 seems modern in comparison.

Precious relics and works of art were taken from the cathedral and there was no loss of life. The loss is devastating, as it seems that there was a delay in getting the water to the rooftop in time to stop the blaze before it spread. Hopefully, the towers and rose window can be restored.

Our local fire department is ready to help when a fire alarm is sounded. Many of the sirens I hear are in the daytime, confirmed by Dearborn. The increase in alarms and sirens is exponential. When we moved here over 20 years ago, there were about 700 emergencies per year. Now that amount totals over 3,000 annually. There are many more calls for ambulances with Glenmeadow and The Nursing Home on Converse Street.

There are more automotive emergencies due to distracted driving often blamed on cell phones. We once had a car of ours catch on fire in our own driveway. The Longmeadow Fire Department responded immediately when a neighbor called 911. Our house was saved with minimal damage and no one was injured. Please consider that fires can also happen when no one is home. In a recent Springfield fire, several pets went missing. Dysfunctional smoke alarms put the lives of your pets and family at risk. You are also putting the lives and property of your neighbors at risk since so many homes in this town are close together, often with a shared driveway or possibly flammable fence between two properties.

Please remember that all smoke detectors must be updated if you plan to sell your home. If you need advice, call Lieutenant Viera at 413-567-­3357 and visit our link on the town’s website‐Department, under the quick links, you can find all of the smoke detector requirements. The fire department staff run an annual Fire Safety day every October with tours of the fire station and fire engines. We still have one of those plastic red fire chief hats from our son’s visit long ago.

– Submitted by Betsy Huber Port, Longmeadow, MA.