Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Media Contact: LARA Communications (517-335-LARA (5272))
August 17, 2020 - Smoke alarms from the statewide community risk reduction program, MI Prevention, alerted an Upper Peninsula family to a recent home fire caused by a lightning strike. The alarms aided their escape and helped notify the fire department.
The home is believed to have been struck by lightning around 7:00 am on July 18, 2020. After checking the home, the homeowners went back to bed as there appeared to have been no damage. Later, the family awoke to the sound of smoke alarms and the home filling with smoke. The smoke alarms that alerted this family were installed by the Quincy-Franklin-Hancock Volunteer Fire Department last summer and were provided by MI Prevention and the State Fire Marshal’s office.
“Our team – lead by State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer – has done a tremendous job coordinating the installation of thousands and thousands of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in homes throughout the state,” said LARA Director Orlene Hawks. “It is important that we recognize the hard work our local firefighters put in every day, making sure that our Michigan residents are safe.”
“If these smoke alarms had not been installed, I believe the outcome could have been tragic,” said Dan Dulong of the Quincy-Franklin-Hancock Volunteer Fire Department. “On behalf of the homeowners and our fire department, we wanted to pass along our thanks for the MI Prevention program, and the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors provided.”
As of August 14, 2020, a total of 84 residents have died in residential fires in Michigan. Nine of those fatalities have occurred in eight fatal fires in the Upper Peninsula since the beginning of the year. In 2019, there were a total of seven fire fatalities in the Upper Peninsula. Overall, residential fire deaths in Michigan are up 43% in the first seven months of 2020 as compared to the same time frame the previous year.
State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer urges every Michigander to educate themselves on ways to prevent fires, and to develop and practice a home fire escape plan. “MI Prevention data shows that between January 1, 2017 and August 1, 2020, 58% of the fire fatalities involved people who were not in the room where the fire started,” said State Fire Marshal Sehlmeyer. “Further, the data shows that many of these fire victims were trying to escape but did not make it out of their home.”
According to Underwriters Laboratories fire dynamic growth studies, today’s fires grow faster and produce more blinding toxic smoke than home fires did in the past.
“It is very important that every Michigan resident has working smoke alarms to alert occupants and allow them time to escape a fire before the buildup of heat and toxic smoke impedes their ability to escape a fire,” said Fire Marshal Sehlmeyer.
Every home needs a working smoke alarm on every level of the home as well as in every sleeping area. Michigan residents should also “push the button” monthly to ensure their smoke alarms are working properly and have an escape plan for what they will do if a fire occurs in their home.
To learn more about fire safety check out the MI Prevention Facebook page or the MI Prevention webpage at Michigan.gov/MIPrevention.