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State Fire Marshal Urges Michiganders to "Push the Button" on Mother's Day to Test Smoke Alarms

Social media campaign aims to reduce high fire fatality rate, especially among the elderly in Michigan 
Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-335-LARA (5272)

May 10, 2019 With almost 70 percent of the state’s residential fire fatalities involving someone over the age of 40 in the last two years, State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer today is urging Michiganders to Push the Button to test smoke alarms in the homes of mothers and elderly loved ones to make sure the smoke alarms are working properly. The state fire marshal is challenging Michiganders to do three things on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12, 2019:

person testing smoke alarm

  1. If possible, visit your mother. 
  2. While visiting your mother, please test all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in her home.
  3. While testing your mother’s smoke alarms, record a video of yourself and your mother testing a smoke alarm. 

If visiting your mother on Mother’s Day is not possible, please consider visiting anyone that you care about – your dad, grandparents, or your elderly neighbors – and checking their smoke alarms and CO detectors.

“By pushing the button on each smoke alarm, you will make sure the smoke alarm works and know that your family and friends are protected,” said Sehlmeyer. “This test is such a simple, easy, life-saving thing that you can do to reduce the risk of a family or friend dying in a residential fire.”

Sehlmeyer added, “Please post your smoke alarm testing video on your Facebook page and challenge your friends and family to do the same on Mother’s Day.” 

Sehlmeyer emphasized that this rather lighthearted Mother’s Day challenge is to address a deadly serious issue of residential fatal fires in Michigan. In 2018, Michigan’s fire departments collectively reported 139 residential fire fatalities with the highest rate among those over the age of 40, at 70 percent.

The fire marshal would like to remind residents that all homes should have a working smoke alarm on every level of the house, including the basement – and one smoke alarm in every bedroom. Early warning is very important if you have a fire. You will have less than three minutes to get out of your home before the smoke and fire gases will impact your ability to exit based on live fire research conducted by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST). The early warning given by a smoke alarm will provide you more time to escape. Early warning of a fire is especially important to help senior citizens who need extra seconds to get out safely.

Many people surveyed shared that they didn’t know that smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years.

Fire Safety Tip: Set a reminder on your phone to remind you to test your smoke alarms and CO detectors each month. 

If your smoke alarm begins to “chirp,” it’s a warning that the battery is low and that you need to replace the battery. Smoke alarms are either powered by a replaceable disposable 9-volt battery or a non-replaceable 10-year lithium “long-life” battery. 

Some homes have smoke alarms directly hardwired into their home electrical system. Hard-wired smoke alarms are usually equipped with a backup battery and those batteries also need to be replaced at some point. An advantage with hard-wired alarms is that they are interconnected so when one smoke alarm goes off, all the smoke alarms go off in the whole house.

Fire Safety Tip: Never borrow a battery from a smoke alarm to use somewhere else.

MI Prevention is a community risk reduction effort coordinated by the state fire marshal, the Bureau of Fire Services, Michigan’s fire departments and public and private community partners.

MI Prevention is currently managing a statewide fire safety campaign that includes installing smoke alarms in homes free of charge and educating homeowners on fire safety by partnering with over 100 fire departments statewide. MI Prevention shares that homeowners should contact their local fire department to request a fire safety home visit and smoke alarm installation.

Funding for the MI Prevention outreach comes from a competitive, one-year $525,000 Fire Prevention and Safety grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security. MI Prevention will coordinate the installation of 21,384 smoke alarms and­­­­ 6,455 CO alarms obtained through the FEMA grant. All the grant smoke alarms and CO detectors will be installed by August 1, 2019, by MI Prevention partner groups and local fire departments.

Consumers who are interested in additional fire safety information can visit the MI Prevention Facebook page or the MI Prevention website: or they can call: (616) 250-4147 with questions.

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