The lack of a working smoking detector in this week's fatal house fire in Arlington Heights is causing the fire department to renew its appeal that such devices be installed and properly maintained.
And the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District will be going ahead Saturday morning with a free giveaway of smoke detector batteries -- exactly what was missing from the detector in the Arlington Heights fire.
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According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths in the country occur in situations where there are no working smoke detectors.
Arlington Heights Fire Commander Bill Essling said it would be pure speculation to try to guess how much earlier a working smoke detector might have warned the three women in the house of the fire that began in the kitchen.
But considering the amount of fire involvement in the house at 311 S. Dunton Ave., it's probably safe to say it would have been quite a while before the fire department received the call early Wednesday, he said.
The three victims of the fire were Doris M. Miller, 93, who owned the home; Tetiana Krych, 62, who was Miller's live-in caregiver; and Svitlana Kandelis, 40, who was Krych's daughter and spending the night at the home away from her own residence in Wheeling.
Essling said just because the smoke detector didn't have a battery doesn't mean it never did. Smoke detectors almost always are sold with a battery, he said.
The Arlington Heights Fire Department recommends smoke alarms be tested at least once a month by pressing the test button. Batteries should be replaced at least once a year and the detectors themselves every 10 years or as directed by the manufacturer.
The department recommends smoke detectors be installed on every level of a house and in every room where people sleep.
The Barrington Countryside Fire District's free battery giveaway for its residents will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 9 at the entrance of the Braymore Hills of Inverness subdivision on the east side of Barrington Road, just south of Dundee Road in Inverness.
"Smoke detectors are proven lifesaving tools that reduce the risk of fire death by 50 percent, but they have to be operational to be effective," Barrington Countryside Fire Chief Jeff Swanson said. "The battery giveaway is designed to make sure our residents have what they need to be safe in their homes."