Fire officials to urge use of smoke detectors Door-to-door visits set for Dundalk neighborhood

January 04, 1996|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County fire officials will be going door to door today in a Dundalk neighborhood to draw attention to a smoke-detector law in the wake of two fire deaths in less than a month -- both in apartments where the devices were found to be inoperable.

Both fires occurred in the 2900 block of Yorkway -- the first one on Dec. 10 claiming the life of an 18-month-old girl, the other on Tuesday killing a 41-year-old man.

Members of the county fire marshal's and fire public education offices will canvass the neighborhood to tell residents of a county fire code requirement that landlords install smoke detectors powered by the household electrical system -- not batteries -- on each floor that has a sleeping area.

If a building does not have such a hard-wired detector, residents will be encouraged to contact their landlord and ask for that protection. "We just want to get down there and try to get some information out," said Capt. Thomas Logue of the county fire marshal's office. "We want to make them aware that it's the owners' responsibility to provide the protection they need."

After the Dec. 10 blaze, in which Paige Nicole Warlick died, fire officials distributed battery-operated detectors -- a requirement in dwelling units of buildings constructed before 1976.

James B. Darda, 41, died in Tuesday's blaze. His apartment's smoke detector lacked a battery. In the wake of that death, Captain Logue said, "We've changed the way we're looking at things. We're becoming more aggressive."

Captain Logue said landlords are usually willing to comply because the code also protects them. But if a landlord fails to comply, the fire marshal's office will enforce the code. Residents can contact the office at 887-4880.

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