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An ounce of prevention

The importance of having working smoke alarms was validated in the very early hours Monday morning for a West Fargo couple and their young daughter, when a fire broke out in their mobile home in Brookwood Park.

There is no doubt having a working smoke alarm saved the families lives.

Two fire alarms were located in the mobile home, one was working, one was not, but given the small space, the one that was working made all the difference in the world.

That was what alerted them to the danger, and that is what prompted them to evacuate their home, a task they quickly accomplished before police and fire officials arrived on the scene.

The young dad was able to rescue his young daughter from her bedroom and make it out the door, while the mother jumped to safety from a front window.

West Fargo Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider said he cannot over emphasize the importance of everyone having working smoke alarms, noting this was the perfect example of a tragedy avoided thanks to their operating presence.

He added that such was not the case in a recent Fargo fire where a man lost his life with the investigation ultimately revealing there was no functioning smoke detector in the apartment.

On that note, this fire should be a real wake-up call for everyone and the inspiration for checking out the working value of the smoke alarms in homes.

"We could have had a real tragedy here under the same circumstances," Schatschneider said. "The smoke detector made all the difference in the world. It is a no-brainer to have them and make sure they are functioning properly and well-maintained."

This is a message that fire department officials preach every October during Fire Prevention Week but a practice that should be top of mind all the time. "They should be checked every six months to make sure they are working properly," Schatschneider said. "And if they are more than five- years- old we recommend they be replaced with UL (Underwriter Laboratories) approved detectors. Smoke alarms are very inexpensive protection and a small price to pay for saving lives."

So the moral of the story would be - don't wait until it's too late. Check those smoke detector batteries now and if they need to be replaced, do so immediately. A little bit of reaction will go a long way in averting a future tragedy in another household.