Letter to the editor: We don’t want to have to visit you over the holidays

Something has been weighing heavy on me lately, and that is FIRE SAFETY, PREVENTION, PROACTIVE PLANNING, and RESPONSIBLE OWNERSHIP of HOME OWNERS, and RENTAL PROPERTY.

With all this being said, here is what I would like to reach out and say to each and every person in the City of New Albany, and resident of Union County. We have had several calls recently to homes where there were NO smoke detectors, or carbon monoxide detection systems in them. This is such a sad and helpless feeling for us as firefighters to see and deal with. Looking Nationwide thus far this year, there have been a large number of fire deaths, and lack of smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors. Just this morning reading fire news from Indiana, 4 young children, all girls ranging from 4 to 12 years of age were killed in a house fire. Add to this, the Mother was taken for medical treatment along with 2 law enforcement officers who attempted to rescue the children. This is NOT an isolated incident this year, sadly it has become a very common occurrence.

First, if you are the home owner/occupant, please take the time to install operating detectors and alarms. Replace batteries on a scheduled time, or sooner if needed. Second, if you are NOT the owner, and are renting or leasing, the City of New Albany requires the owners of the property to follow this code:

2006 IBC 907.2.10.1- Smoke alarms “SHALL” be installed in the following locations: 1) In each sleeping room. 2) Outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms. 3) On each additional story of the dwelling, including basements, but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics. In dwellings or dwelling units with split levels and without an intervening door between the adjacent lower level provided that the lower level is less than one full story below the upper level. When alterations, repairs, or additions requiring a permit occur, or when one or more sleeping rooms are added or created in existing dwellings, the individual dwelling unit SHALL be equipped with smoke alarms located as required for new dwellings; the smoke alarms shall be interconnected and hard wired.

Carbon monoxide alarms fall under a different category, and “SHALL” be as follows:

2012 IRC R315-An approved carbon monoxide alarm “SHALL” be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms in dwelling units within which fuel fired appliances are installed and in dwelling units that have attached garages.

Unfortunately at this time, Union County has NO requirements or code to meet, but it is extremely recommended by myself that at the very least, EACH resident in the County follow the above codes, along with purchasing a personal fire extinguisher for your home and auto.

We as a department here in New Albany have become very proactive rather than reactive, and we are constantly looking for ways to become a safer and more protected community. The safety of those we protect and serve is our number 1 priority, this is why we enforce the use of detectors in rental property, and advise each homeowner/occupant if we observe there are no operating detectors in the home, the importance of installing an adequate type and amount. These detectors have come a long way over the years, some with a 10 year sealed battery, and are relatively inexpensive. Such a small price to pay for the safety of our children and loved ones.

Please have a safe and secure Holiday Season, and keep your family safe. Don’t let the next time you see us, be even worse due to the fact that there were no operating carbon monoxide or smoke detectors in your homes. Rental property owners, please take this message as a reminder to protect your investments, and the lives that live in them. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to contact us at 662-534-1000.

Mark Whiteside,

Deputy Fire Chief, New Albany Fire/Rescue