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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

How we can save lives

Fire that killed five people in Pennsylvania highlights importance of smoke alarms

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: Fire ripped through a row house in central Pennsylvania on Monday evening, killing five people, including four young children. Our Editorial Advisor Chief Adam K. Thiel gives his thoughts below.

While we don't know all the details, this latest tragedy — occurring right on the heels of Fire Prevention Week 2010 — again reinforces the importance of proactive fire prevention and life safety education as our best method of protecting lives and property.

Despite a rapid response and immediately initiating search and rescue as the tactical priority, firefighters were unable to save the victims of this fatal fire.

Would working smoke alarms have changed the outcome? Probably.

How about working smoke alarms plus a planned and practiced exit strategy for the occupants? Even better.

All of our fire departments spend a great deal of time (and rightly so) preparing for situations where we can make the ultimate difference in someone's life, by rescuing them from a hostile fire.

We can make an even bigger difference by renewing our commitment to proactive fire prevention and life safety education — including residential smoke alarms.

For more information on smoke alarms:

  • Read the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) press release on a smoke alarm survey performed last month.
  • And visit the United States Fire Administration Focus on Fire Safety: Smoke Alarms website.

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.



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