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As Fire Prevention Week Approaches, New York State Leads the Nation in Civilian Fire Deaths

FASNY Urges New Yorkers to Test Smoke Alarms

Three of every five home fire deaths occur in a home without a working smoke alarm

(NEW YORK – October 03, 2019) – Fire Prevention Month is getting underway and Fire Prevention Week (Oct 6-12) is rapidly approaching. The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) is urging New Yorkers to take note of basic fire safety tips and advice that can help save lives, with strong emphasis on ensuring that residential smoke alarms are installed and are in working order. This is critical: it has been an especially tragic year in New York State. As of October 2, 2019, data from the US Fire Administration shows 87 civilian fire deaths in New York State so far this year, a devastating figure that leads the nation, outpacing the more populous states of California, Texas, and Florida.

FASNY urges New Yorkers to ensure their smoke alarms are in proper working order so that they, and their families, are protected against fire. FASNY specifically encourages New Yorkers to install smoke alarms equipped with sealed-in, non-removeable batteries that last for 10 years. These alarms do not require any battery changes during their lifespan and are nearly impossible to disable. Earlier this year, State legislation took effect that banned the sale of smoke alarms with removeable batteries in New York State. This is a critical step toward ensuring the public’s safety, but people must also be diligent about installing these more sophisticated alarms and ensuring that they are in working order.

Installing and maintaining working smoke alarms is the single most important thing people can do to protect themselves against fire. Most fatal fires happen between midnight and 8AM and it takes only a few moments for fire to spread through a house. Occupants of a burning home may only have minutes to escape before being overcome by the smoke and flames. Working smoke alarms help ensure that people are awakened and able to take advantage of those precious minutes.

The numbers bear out the importance of smoke alarms. According to the National Fire Protection Association, three of every five home fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms or working smoke alarms. Firefighters frequently encounter smoke alarms with missing or dead batteries, meaning these homes are defenseless against fire. 

“In New York State, we pride ourselves as a national leader on many issues. But as of now, we also tragically lead the nation in civilian fire deaths,” said FASNY President Steven Klein. “Eighty-seven civilians have perished in fires so far this year in New York, a particularly disturbing figure considering that winter, often the busiest time of the year for home fires, has not yet begun in earnest. It is a known fact that a fire sprinkler system is the most effective way to protect your family. Working smoke alarms are critical in preventing home fire deaths and FASNY strongly urges all New Yorkers to ensure that their homes are adequately protected with sealed-in smoke alarms with batteries capable of lasting for 10 years. Take some time to develop a fire escape plan be sure that all occupants of your building understand how to escape in the event of fire, and as always, do not hesitate to dial 9-1-1 in case of emergency.”

Smoke Alarm Tips from the NFPA

Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, in each bedroom, and near all sleeping areas.Test smoke alarms monthly to make sure they’re working. Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old.Interconnect your smoke alarms so that when one smoke alarm sounds, they all do.

About FASNY   

Founded in 1872, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) represents the interests of the approximately 105,000 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel in New York State.  For more information, visit  

About Fire Prevention Week:  Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8 but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871. For more information visit

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