Smoke detectors save lives by providing a warning system but can
do nothing to extinguish a growing fire or protect those physically
unable to escape on their own, such as the elderly or small children.
Too often, battery operated smoke detectors fail to function because
the batteries are dead or have been removed.
A dramatic example illustrating that; in May of 1988, in the First
Interstate Bank Building (FIBB) in downtown Los Angeles, California.
A fire broke out on the 12th floor of this building around 10:00
in the evening. A security guard reacting to an automatic smoke
alarm took an elevator to the fire floor to investigate. When the
elevator opened, he was immediately
Because this fire happened at night, while the building was unoccupied,
there was no large loss of life. However, this fire could have started
during the day with thousands of people in the building. How many
lives would have been lost then?
overcome with smoke, and died. Meanwhile, the fire broke through
the windows on the 12th floor. People outside the building noticed
the fire and called the fire department. By the time the fire department
arrived (four minutes), the fire had already spread to the 13th
floor. Heat from the fire was breaking glass out of the windows
on upper floors. This glass, falling 150 feet, made it impossible
for firemen to get anywhere close to the building. Entering the
building next door, fire fighters walked through a tunnel into the
basement of the FIBB. From the basement, fire fighters walked up
13 flights carrying all their fire fighting equipment. > For four
hours, 300 fire fighters fought a holding action, finally bringing
the fire under control. It took several more hours to actually extinguish
the fire, which caused $50 million in damage. In
its wake, four floors of the FIBB were completely destroyed. All
lower floors suffered extreme water damage,while upper floors suffered
severe smoke damage. Businesses lost valuable documents and files,
as well as their workplace. Recovery took months and millions of
dollars more. Reoccupation of the entirebuilding still wasn't possible
more than one year later.