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Got Smoke Detectors? City Councilmen Say You Better

The push comes after seven Angelenos died in fires in the last month alone.

Three Los Angeles City Councilmen want to ensure every home as a working smoke detector. Patch file photo.
Three Los Angeles City Councilmen want to ensure every home as a working smoke detector. Patch file photo.

With seven people dying in residential fires within the last month, three Los Angeles City Council members called today for a series of measures to ensure every home has a working smoke and carbon-monoxide detector.

City Councilmen Herb Wesson, Mitchell Englander and Joe Buscaino introduced a motion directing staff to look into conducting annual inspections of apartments, condominiums and other multi-family residences.

They also want staff to look into requiring carbon-monoxide monitors in all homes in Los Angeles, and to team with the U.S. Fire Administration, National Fire Protection Association, firefighters' union and fire chiefs association to create a free giveaway program for smoke alarms, carbon-monoxide detectors and batteries.

Also being planned is a multi-lingual education program to remind the public of the importance of maintaining working alarms and detectors.

The motion, under which staff would be directed to report back on each of the recommendations in the coming months, will skip committee hearings and be considered by the full City Council next week.

Fire officials are already preparing to reach out to the public about the recent string of fire-related deaths.

Seven people have died in home fires since the start of the new year, compared with 20 deaths in the previous year, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Stephen Ruda said.

The “common denominator” for the deaths this year “is the fact that all of them died with no warning, due to no active, working smoke alarms in their homes,” the fire captain said.

A Jan. 10 blaze at a Crenshaw-area home that lacked working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors led to the death of a 99-year-old man, Ruda said. Three days later, a family of four perished in a fire inside their Sylmar home, a converted barn that also did not have a working fire warning system.

There were also no fire detectors in a Winnetka home's garage, where a man who was living there “off-and-on”died on Jan. 20. The latest death occurred Monday, when a 36-year-old man was killed in a bedroom fire at his Mid-City home, according to Ruda.

Acting Fire Chief James Featherstone “wants to build a working relationship'” with Angelenos and is “asking for the cooperation of the community to take care of each other,” Ruda said. “I think everybody knows the importance of smoke detectors, but the fire department wants to reinforce it.”

--City News Service

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