Tennessee State Fire Marshal Urges Public to Join the Fight against Fire in Wake of Memphis Tragedy

Published: Sep. 14, 2016 at 9:43 PM EDT
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The State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) joins the city of Memphis in mourning nine Tennesseans killed there in an early morning house fire on Monday, September 12. The tragic incident has SFMO officials asking state residents to collaborate to reduce the devastating effects of fire.

Fire crews from the Memphis Fire Department (MFD) responded quickly to a cell phone call around 1:30 a.m. from inside the home at the 1100 block of Severson Avenue in south central Memphis.

Firefighters broke through security doors to reach the ten people inside the structure. Despite the swift rescue efforts, three adults and four children died at the scene and two other children died after being transported to the hospital. One child remains in the hospital in critical condition.

The cause of the fire was determined to have been a malfunctioning air conditioning unit power cord. A smoke alarm in the home did operate, but the victims were unable to escape the structure on their own.

“This incident happened in Memphis, but it could have happened anywhere in the state, to any of us,” said Gary West, TDCI Deputy Commissioner for Fire Prevention. “To prevent tragedies like this one from happening again, it will take all Tennesseans working together to keep fire safety at the forefront of our daily lives.”

The public is encouraged to take a stand against fire loss by incorporating and sharing these essential safety guidelines:

Have working smoke alarms:

Tennessee residents in need of smoke alarms are encouraged to utilize the SFMO’s free online alarm request form.

For best protection, place alarms inside & outside sleeping areas.

Replace alarms that are 10 years old or older. The State Fire Marshal recommends selecting a 10-year battery smoke alarm when purchasing new alarms.

Make a home fire escape plan:

Have two ways out of every room in the home if possible and a designated outside meeting place.

Plan and practice the plan with every member of your family at least twice a year. Make sure exit routes are clear and doors and windows can be opened easily.

If your home has security bars, ensure that the bars have a quick release mechanism that allows them to be easily opened from the inside. Make sure that everyone staying in the home knows how to operate the release.

Consider fire sprinklers:

Home fire sprinklers provide the best fire protection currently available. They protect lives and property by keeping fires small and allowing more time for escape.

If you’re building or remodeling a home, consider the installation of home fire sprinklers. If you are looking to rent an apartment or condo, look for one that is fully sprinklered.

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