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Smoke Detector = Life Saver

In the wake of recent fatal fires that took the lives of two Milwaukee residents who were in homes with no working smoke detectors, Alderman Puente is re-emphasizing the importance of having operational smoke detectors in every home. The National Fire Protection Association reports that 65% of reported home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke detectors. The NFPA also reported that an estimated 890 lives could be saved each year if all homes had working smoke alarms.

Alderman Puente said having a smoke detector is an absolute necessity—and NOT a luxury. “A stereo system is a luxury—a smoke detector is a lifesaver,” he said. “You can live without a stereo, but you and your loved ones might not survive to see tomorrow if you don’t have a working smoke detector in your home.”

According to the Milwaukee Fire Department, the NFPA and nearly all other safety experts, it is indisputable that smoke alarms save lives. Here are some key things to remember about smoke alarms/detectors:

  • First, make sure a smoke detector is installed on every level of your home, including the basement.

  • Make sure smoke detectors are placed outside sleeping areas and inside bedrooms.

  • If you have a smoke detector with batteries, please check those monthly and replace the batteries annually. All smoke detectors operated by batteries should be replaced every eight to 10 years.

  • Remember to never disable your smoke alarm—even temporarily. For example, if it sounds while you’re cooking, instead of taking the batteries out, clear the air by waving a towel near the smoke alarm, or if you have a hush button on your alarm press that.

  • In general, smoke alarms should be placed in the center of a ceiling, or 6 to 12 inches below the ceiling if placed on the wall.

  • Do not install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.

  • In addition to having working smoke alarms in the home, have a fire escape plan as well. The two combined will increase you and your family’s protection in case of a fire.

  • Lastly, the Milwaukee Fire Department will come and install a smoke detector in your home if you are a Milwaukee resident and eligible to receive one. Call the Milwaukee Fire Department Smoke Detector Hotline at 414-286-8980.



Smoke detectors are the first line of defense when a fire occurs in your home. City Ordinance requires all residences to have working smoke detectors—IT'S THE LAW. If you are eligible, and a City of Milwaukee resident, Milwaukee firefighters will come to your residence and install a smoke detector with batteries. Please note that the smoke detector will be installed in your residence, not given to you. This program is geared for the elderly and disabled.

Please call the above number leaving your name, address and phone number and someone will get back to you. Or email with the same information.