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City Pushes for Code Requiring Smoke, Carbon-Monoxide Detector in Every Home

In a redoubling of efforts to prevent residential fire deaths, the Los Angeles City Council signed off Tuesday on measures to ensure every home has a working smoke and carbon-monoxide detector.

The council unanimously approved a motion -- introduced by Councilmen Herb Wesson, Mitchell Englander and Joe Buscaino -- that directs staff to look into conducting annual inspections of apartments, condominiums and other multi- family residences.

The motion also directs staff to look into requiring carbon-monoxide monitors in all homes in Los Angeles, and for the city to team with the U.S. Fire Administration, National Fire Protection Association, firefighters' union and fire chiefs association to administer a free giveaway program for smoke alarms, carbon-monoxide detectors and batteries.

The council also approved multi-lingual educational campaigns to remind the public of the importance of maintaining working alarms and detectors, and to raise awareness about fire hazards such as "hoarding" behavior that results in a home becoming excessively crowded with belongings.

Fire officials said they are ready to give out thousands of free smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors and are soliciting donations from manufacturers. They said they will begin offering home fire safety inspections in an effort to help Angelenos identify potential fire risks in their homes.

Interim Fire Chief James Featherstone said seven people died in residential fires in January alone, compared with 15 deaths in 2010, 18 in 2011, 22 in 2012 and 21 in 2013.

The fact that each of the deaths this year occurred in homes without working smoke detectors serves as a "crisis call" that more awareness about fire safety is needed, he said.

"We're asking the community's assistance to partner with us, with the city council, the office of the mayor and the fire department to become more aware and more educated on what -- for a large extent in 2014 -- is a preventable death," Featherstone said.

Wesson appealed to media outlets, smoke detector manufacturers and other businesses to pitch in on the awareness effort.

Buscaino said he is "looking forward" to the campaign being launched in his 15th district "in the south Los Angeles area, where some of the most neediest communities really need these detectors."

A 99-year-old man died as a result of a Jan. 10 blaze at a Crenshaw-area home that lacked working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Three days later, a family of four perished in a fire inside their Sylmar home, a converted barn that also did not have a working fire warning system.

There were also no fire detectors in a Winnetka home's garage, where a man who was living there "off-and-on" died on Jan. 20. The latest death occurred Jan. 28, when a 36-year-old man was killed in a bedroom fire at his Mid-City home.

—City News Service

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