OFD reminds people the importance of working...

Posted at 10:26 PM, Mar 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-12 23:26:41-05

Firefighters say having a smoke detector and making sure it’s working could be the difference between life and death.

On Wednesday, a house fire near 28th and Vinton killed two people who were pulled from the basement.

Then on Friday, firefighters said a family was lucky to get out of their home after someone tossed a cigarette off a porch. They did not have a working smoke detector in their home.

“It’s the most important item you can have in term of detecting it, and the most important part of that is when you are sleeping,” said Battalion Chief Zach Ryan.

He said firefighters respond to too many calls where a smoke detector wasn't working, or there wasn't one.

“The fire does not have to be that big in order for it to be deadly, the smoke that generates before the fire gets going can actually be the worst possible outcome for the people inside there.”

The issue is on both sides of the river: city of Council Bluffs staff is now hunting down landlords who haven't registered their properties with the city as part of a city effort to make sure rental units comply with basic safety regulations.

“Well over the last 10 years we've had 5 fatalities, I believe in unregistered rentals, and four of those were children,” said Steve Carmichael who is the cities building official.

Past, preventable tragedies have prompted a mutual effort to stop them. Both Omaha and Council Bluffs fire departments give away free smoke detectors to people who need one. They'll even install it and make sure it’s working.

“They are available through the fire department, there shouldn't be any reason why anyone should not have a smoke detector,” said Ryan.

Firefighters remind people to change the batteries in their smoke detectors twice a year, using Daylight Savings as a good reminder.