Boston’s Smoke Detectors Worked in 80 Percent of Residential Fires


A Massachusetts state fire report will show the odds of smoke detectors working properly and alerting residents to fire are higher on average in Boston than anywhere else in the state, according to a newspaper report.

Statistics show that detectors worked in 80 percent of residential fires last year in Boston, compared with the average statewide in recent years of roughly 50 percent of building fires, according to data from a state fire report set to be released next month and obtained by the Boston Globe. The success rate for smoke detectors in Boston was more than double the rate reported by other Suffolk County communities in 2006.

Boston fire officials attributed the greater success of detectors in the city in part to expanded public awareness about the benefits of smoke detectors and a city program that paid for the installation of some 1,800 detectors last year, the newspaper reported.

“I believe that the combination of our community-education program and our robust smoke detector installation program for elderly and disabled residents is key to keeping the number of fire deaths in the city low,” Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser told the newspaper.

Although the detectors alert residents and ultimately save lives, data shows the number of fires rose last year to the highest level in at least a decade. There were 2,432 building fires last year, up from 1,593 in 2002 and the highest number since at least 1997, when there were 2,158, the newspaper reported.

Fire officials say they don’t know what is causing the increase, but they said that in response they plan to increase efforts to educate the public about fire prevention. Those plans include a new fire-safety campaign aimed at new city residents.

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