Between 2012 and 2016, 12 Residents Died In Home Fires Where Security Bars Hindered Escape
NASHVILLE – Security bars are a common method of household protection against burglary. While burglar bars keep criminals out, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) warns consumers that, in the event of a fire, bars without a quick-release device can block crucial exits and trap residents inside a burning home.
According to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System (TFIRS), between 2012 and 2016, 12 residents died in home fires where security bars were a contributing factor to the fire death. Ten of the 12 deaths occurred in a single incident in Memphis that claimed the lives of three adults and seven children in September 2016.
Between 2012 and 2016, another 12 residents died where locked exits were a contributing factor. On average, around four people die every year in Tennessee home fires where a security bar or locked exit prevented them from escaping the fire.
“Protecting our home and our loved ones is a top concern for Tennesseans,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “We remind consumers that while security bars can keep intruders from getting in, they can also prevent residents from getting out in the event of a fire. To maximize safety, Tennesseans are urged to only install security bars with a quick-release device that allows them to be opened quickly and easily from the inside.”
The State Fire Marshal’s Office encourages Tennesseans to remember the following regarding security bars:
· Windows with security bars, grills or similar devices for home security should have easy-to-use quick-release devices from inside the home. These devices allow the bars to be opened for emergency escape without compromising the security of your home. The quick-release devices should be easy to open without the use of a key, detailed knowledge, or great physical effort.
· Release devices vary by region and manufacturer. Contact your local fire department on a non-emergency number for information on approved release devices available in your area.
· If the security bars on your home are permanently fixed or do not have quick-release devices, they can and should be retrofitted with release devices. Kits are available to retrofit/upgrade security bars with a quick-release device. Contact your local fire department on a non-emergency number for further information on how to retrofit your security bars.
· Make sure that all people staying in the home, including children, know how to operate the release.
· An occupant’s risk from unsafe burglar bars is compounded greatly where there is no working smoke alarm. With the early warning provided by a working smoke alarm, people have a chance to extinguish an incipient fire or leave through exits. In many cases where there are multiple fatalities due to burglar bar entrapment, there often is not a working smoke alarm.
· Security bars on windows and locked doors not only prevent escape from fire, but can also impede rescue attempts. In a fire, the difference between life and death can often be measured in seconds. Bars without a quick-release device can delay the entry efforts of firefighters and other first responders, taking up valuable rescue time.
For more home fire safety information or to download a free copy of the 2018 Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office calendar, visit tn.gov/fire.