Nashville, TN — As families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving Day this week, the occasion marks the two-year anniversary of the launch of the State Fire Marshal’s Office “Get Alarmed Tennessee” smoke-alarm distribution program, which has helped create the single largest fire mortality rate reduction in state history.
On November 27th, 2012, the State Fire Marshal’s Office began the “Get Alarmed Tennessee” program by giving the program’s first 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms to the Elizabethton Fire Department in Elizabethton,Tennessee.Since then, the State Fire Marshal’s Office has distributed more than 66,300 smoke alarms in two years’ time to nearly 400 local partners across the state. Every 10 days, approximately 900 alarms are given to partnering organizations statewide.
The alarms, which are 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms, are installed in high fire-risk homes throughout Tennessee at a rate of 300 alarms per week. For every 900 smoke alarms distributed, one life has been potentially saved. 1
“The ‘Get Alarmed Tennessee’ program has helped save lives across the state and strengthened communities against the threat of fire hazards,” said state Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “Partnerships between the State Fire Marshal’s Office and our local fire prevention partners have helped make this program a success.”
The “Get Alarmed Tennessee” program came on the heels of Tennessee gaining a tragic reputation as having one of the highest fire mortality rates in the U.S. When Governor Bill Haslam was sworn into office in 2010, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported that Tennessee’s 2006-2010 fire mortality rate was 17.7 deaths per million, giving Tennessee the 6th highest fire mortality rate in the United States.2
The facts are clear:
- One Tennessean perishes in a fatal structure fire every four days
- More than 70 percent of these fatal fires had no working smoke alarms reported present. According to the NFPA, working smoke alarms cut the chance of dying in a reported home fire by half. 3
Tennessee’s fortunes have changed as the “Get Alarmed” program has gained traction. The State Fire Marshal’s Office has recorded a reduction of more than 20 percent in both the number of reported structure fires and the state’s fire mortality rate since 2010. This reduction to 13.7 deaths per million is the single largest fire mortality rate reduction in our state’s recorded history. (New state fire mortality rankings comprising the years 2011-15 will be reported in 2017.)
1 11/25/14 State Fire Marshal’s Office DD: 66,364 distributed alarms/71 people = 934 alarms distributed per life saved.
2 NFPA, U.S. Unintentional Fire Death Rates By State, 2012
3 NFPA, Smoke Alarm Presence and Performance in U.S. Home Fires, 2009
The Division of Fire Prevention is the State Fire Marshal’s Office, which is part of the Department of Commerce and Insurance. The division works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. The division includes the state’s building and safety codes enforcement operations, as well as arson and explosives investigations. The division also conducts consumer and children’s fire safety education programs across Tennessee.