The Chief’s Corner

By Robert W. Seltzer, BSEE, EFO, MPA

Chief Smithfield Fire Dept.

Millions of Americans live with physical and mental disabilities. Fire safety for people with disabilities is important because they do not have the same physical and mental capabilities as those without a disability. We must remember they have limitations and we must consider disability needs when building fire prevention plans.

It is important to know the risk and do the following.

Have smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Interconnect your alarms, so when one sounds, they all sound.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use smoke alarms with a vibrating pad, flashing light or strobe light. These accessories start when your alarm sounds.
Test your alarms every month.

How fast does fire move? Very fast. You could have less than 2 minutes to get out safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Plan your escape around your abilities.

Know two ways out of every room.
Make sure doors and windows are not blocked.
If possible, live near an exit.
You’ll be safest on the ground floor if you live in an apartment building.
If you live in a multistory home, sleep on the first floor.
Being on the ground floor and near an exit will make your escape easier.

Sometimes our disabled family members and friends use oxygen at home. Keep the following in mind.

Medical oxygen can explode if a flame or spark is nearby.
Even if the oxygen is turned off, it can still catch on fire. Never smoke around medical oxygen.

If you have any further questions about protecting people with disabilities against the threat of fire, please call our Fire Prevention Division at 401-949-0832.