Chicago Fire Urges Residents To Check Smoke Detectors After Rise In Fire Deaths

Mike Krauser
March 09, 2018 - 12:42 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Chicago Fire Department is concerned about the number of fire deaths this year and is urging people to check smoke detectors when they change clocks this weekend. 

Thirteen people died in fires in Chicago so far this year, and in three cases, Deputy District Chief Walter Schroeder said, the victims were smoking while on supplemental oxygen.

"Of the fire deaths we've had in 2018, three of them were due to the use of smoking materials by people who were on supplemental oxygen. They were on oxygen tanks," he said. “There is no safe way of smoking and utilizing the supplemental oxygen."

The one thing most fatal fires this year have in common, he said, is no working smoke detectors. Schroeder said often firefighters find victims close to doors and he said if they just had even a minute of warning they might have survived. 

"Many fires that occur in buildings where the fire damage was minimal, the smoke was enough to kill. Time and time again our firefighters find a victim just inches from the door or window. If they had even one more minuteof warning, chances are they may have made it," Schroeder said. 

He reminds people that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are required by law. 

"Of the fires that have been reported this year, the majority were in homes that did not have a working smoke detector," Schroeder said. 

Many fires, Schroeder said, cause minimal damage from flames, but produce enough smoke to kill a person.  

There were 29 fire deaths last year and 19 the year before that, the lowest number in decades, Schroeder said.