Deadly Greensboro fire is tragic reminder of importance of smoke alarms


In the wake of the deadly apartment fire in Greensboro over the weekend in which five children between the ages of 18 months and nine years old died, Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey reminds residents of a North Carolina law requiring all rental properties have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

According to the Greensboro Fire Department, the apartment in which the fire erupted early Saturday morning had smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms but they were not working at the time of the fire.

Chief State Fire Marshal Brian Taylor is currently in Greensboro to assist with the fire investigation and will be at the 3:00 P.M. news conference, which will take place at the Public Safety Training Facility, 1510 N.Church Street in Greensboro.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ family and our sincere gratitude goes out to the firefighters and emergency responders who dealt with this incident,” said Commissioner Causey. “This horrific tragedy is a startling reminder of the importance of having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Everyone should remember to check alarms on each floor, change the batteries frequently, and have an emergency preparedness plan and a way to get out in case of a fire.”

Under North Carolina law, landlords are required to provide tenants with working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and maintain their functionality.

Under Senate Bill 77, which was passed into law on December 31, 2012, landlords are required to do the following:

  • Provide operable smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, either battery-operated or electrical, and install them in accordance with the standards of the National Fire Protection Association.
  • When installing a new smoke alarm or replacing an existing smoke alarm, the landlord must install a tamper-resistant, 10-year lithium battery smoke alarm.
  • Replace or repair broken smoke alarms within 15 days after receiving notification from the tenant.
  • Ensure that a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm are operable and in good repair at the beginning of each tenancy.

Under the same law, tenants are required to do the following:

  • Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, or remove the smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm.
  • Notify the landlord, in writing, of the need for replacement of or repairs to a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm.

Office of the State Fire Marshal regularly partners with local communities and fire departments to ensure residents have fully functional and operational smoke alarms installed.

On June 23, 2018, OSFM is partnering with fire departments and other fire safety advocates for a statewide smoke alarm canvass to provide both education and 10-year smoke alarms as needed with a goal of reducing fire deaths and injuries in North Carolina.

Having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a fire in half. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths occur because of fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.


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Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.