Is Your Home Safe in a Fire?

Patrick C. Barry

Recent reports of fires in Middletown, Pawtucket and other Rhode Island locations reflect the tragic nature of house fires. Such media reports, especially with fatal fires, often raise an important question – was the smoke detector working? A missing or defective smoke detector may be implicated in a Labor Day house fire in Middletown that killed a 7-year-old boy and injured his two teenage sisters.

Many times, a properly working smoke detector may still fail to go off even in the presence of dangerous smoke and carbon monoxide, leaving a family unable to escape. How can this happen?

There is a serious dispute in the world of fire protection over the types of smoke detectors commonly in use. One type – called an ionization smoke detector – is known not to alarm quickly in ‘smoldering’ fires, the kind of fires more likely to kill. Another type – photoelectric – generally offers a better design and saves more lives in the silent, slow, smoldering fires that cause most fire deaths. This is not widely known or understood by consumers, however, and manufacturers still produce ionization detectors without adequate warnings.

Providence, RI law firm Decof, Decof & Barry, P.C. is actively representing families who have lost loved ones under these circumstances. Major manufacturers face lawsuits across the country based on the failure of such smoke alarms. If you have been injured or a family member has been killed in a house fire, please contact us. We can determine what type of smoke detector may be involved and pursue any claims against the manufacturers if a smoke alarm failure was a factor.

Photo: © Copyright Albert Bridge and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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