SUMMIT, NJ - "Don't Wait - Check the Date!" is the message from the Summit Fire Department to Hilltop City residents, reinforcing the important message of smoke alarm safety, underscored once again during Fire Prevention Week, which runs through October 15.

At the October Summit Common Council meeting, Mayor Nora Radest proclaimed October 9 - 15 as 'Fire Prevention Week' in Summit as well. The safety initiative marks the final year of a three-year effort by the Department to educate the public about basic, but essential, elements of smoke alarm safety.

National Fire Protection Association survey data shows that the public has many misconceptions about smoke alarms, which may put them at increased risk in the event of a home fire. For example, only a small percentage of people know how old their smoke alarms are, or how often they need to be replaced. As a result of those and related findings, the Department is again addressing smoke alarm replacement this year with a focus on these key messages:

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  • Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.

  • Make sure you know how old all the smoke alarms are in your home.

  • To find out how old a smoke alarm is, look at the date of manufacture on the back of the alarm; the alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date.

The Summit Fire Department will be conducting fire prevention presentations throughout the city during the month of October. “Community education and awareness about fire safety is one of the fire department’s primary goals,” said Summit Fire Chief Eric Evers.  Firefighters will be visiting schools, senior centers, and community events throughout the city spreading the word about fire safety and educating the public on the dangers associated with fire hazards.

“Today’s fires burn hotter and faster” added Evers. ”When a fire started in a home twenty years ago, it took about 20 -25 minutes for smoke, heat, and fire to consume a room. Today, due to modern furnishings and building construction, it only takes 3-4 minutes -- five times faster than twenty years ago. This greatly reduces your chances of safely escaping a fire, making early detection and education more important than ever.“

Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on October 9, 1871. In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation, and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls.

The Summit Fire Department will be conducting fire prevention presentations throughout the city during the month of October. “Community education and awareness about fire safety is one of the fire department’s primary goals” according to Evers.  Firefighters will be visiting schools, senior centers, and community events throughout the city spreading the word about fire safety and educating the public on the dangers associated with fire hazards.

“Today’s fires burn hotter and faster” says Evers. ”When a fire started in a home twenty years ago, it took about 20 -25 minutes for smoke, heat, and fire to consume a room. Today, due to modern furnishings and building construction, it only takes 3-4 minutes -- five times faster than twenty years ago. This greatly reduces your chances of safely escaping a fire, making early detection and education more important than ever.“

Residents are encouraged to visit the fire station to learn more about fire awareness and education.