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Fire Safety Alert

For 2011, I’m going to try and post at least a couple of blog entries a month. Things got busy during the holidays, so I wasn’t able to find the time.  We’ll just see how it goes…

Fire Safety

On December 13th, just after 8 PM, we heard fire trucks coming down our street. They made the turn at the corner and stopped 2 houses down. We didn’t know what was going on so we ran to the back door and we could see plumes of smoke rising up from our neighbor’s house.

We immediately ran to the garage and into the driveway to see what was going on. Julie and I were running down together and the girls were staying in the garage. I don’t think I will ever forget the sight. Our neighbor’s garage was engulfed in flames. Flames were shooting 5-10 feet out from the front of the garage and a full size conversion van that was parked right in front of the garage door had flames rising up from under the hood. Everyone made it out of the house before the fire department showed up thanks to a passerby who saw their garage on fire and knocked on the door to tell the family.


Smoke was everywhere and you could see the firemen were gearing up to go inside while others had already hooked hoses up and were putting out the fire.

This is the closest I have ever been to a house fire and I learned a lot from this event:

  1. Firemen kick ass. They were already putting water on those flames in the time it took us to realize what was going on and run down our driveway. It had to be less than 2 minutes.
  2. Even with all the water and firemen at the scene, it still took over an hour to get the flames out.
  3. Houses smolder for HOURS and the fire department will not leave until it’s done. 3 am is when they all left.
  4. Once the actual fire is out and the mass of firemen start tearing apart the house looking for smoldering debris is when a serious amount of damage is done to the house. They certainly have to do it, but it’s really heartbreaking to watch the guys tear it apart with pry-bars and axes.

Brooke was freaked out by the fire so we made her our fire marshal. We did a fire safety check of all our smoke detectors and fire extinguishers a few days later. I would encourage everyone to do this. NOW. And go over your family exit plan for how everyone will get out of the house and meet up. It’s serious business. Here is a link to a good checklist.

The thing that really got me nervous was that it turns out the fire started in the garage and the kids were in the basement so they had no idea there was a fire. In our house, our smoke detectors are not connected so if one goes off, the others do not. This was never really a concern for me in the past…. until now. The cost to wire them all together was out of the question, so I looked for alternatives and I stumbled across these:

First Alert ONELINK Wireless Battery Operated Smoke Alarm with Voice Location

I read some reviews and decided that these were just what I was looking for. Wireless, synced smoke detectors. They have about 15 pre-programmed locations so when you get them, you program them for “basement” or “dining room”. When the alarm goes off on one, it takes a few seconds for the others to start up, but it works and it works pretty well. I got 2 2-packs for $67 each. First place I put one was the garage…

As a side note, this makes me feel very proud of what we do at Motorola. Working with public safety and helping ensure that these firemen can communicate gives a lot of purpose and meaning to my job. I have always felt that way, but now it’s just more personal and real than before.

1 Comment

  1. Queen B

    First post of the year! Yea Ryan!!

    CC is our fire marshal, she checks the fire alarms with her dad twice a year whether they need it or not. Luckily our reminder comes from the smoke house they bring to the school, not something so tragic. We don’t have a smoke detector in our garage though, so thanks for the reminder! And I like the connectivity of the alarms you found. Perhaps in our future!

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