At 3:40 a.m. on November 27, the South Portland Fire Department responded to a fire alarm system alert and contained a fire that could have engulfed an entire 64-unit apartment building, potentially harming people. Instead, no one was hurt and the damage to the building was minor.

“This is a perfect example of why fire codes and safety systems are vital,” Fire Chief Phil Selberg said.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, “You have only minutes to escape during a fire. Working smoke alarms save lives. More than 2,200 people die each year because of unintentional home fires. Almost two-thirds of these fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or with smoke alarms that don’t work. A smoke alarm’s warning can cut the risk of dying from a fire in your home by almost half.”

The National Safety Council’s recommendations are:

● Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas on the ceiling or high on the wall
● Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen, at least 10 feet from the stove, to reduce false alarms
● Use special alarms with strobe lights and bed shakers for people who are hard of hearing or deaf
● Test smoke alarms monthly
● Replace batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector annually
● Replace smoke alarms that are 10 or more years old