Fire prevention key goal since deadly 2011 Christmas Day fire - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Fire prevention key goal since deadly 2011 Christmas Day fire

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Stamford firefighters have redoubled their efforts to prevent fires since three sisters and their grandparents died in a Christmas Day house fire in 2011.

Public Safety Director Ted Jankwoski says firefighters have inspected nearly 800 single- and multi-family homes and installed 46 smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors free of charge.

"More times than not when I go up to an individual and ask how did you become aware of the fire it was the smoke detector that went off," Jankwoski said. "The smoke detector woke me up."

The department has distributed more than 600 smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Many were donated by the Stamford Fire Safety Foundation Fund, launched by Fire Capt. Matt Palmer after the deadly blaze.

Palmer has raised $17,000 for prevention initiatives. He used some of the money to buy 14 smoke alarm installation kits, which include basic tools such as screwdrivers, mounting equipment and batteries. Each Stamford firehouse is stocked with smoke alarm installation kits.

"It's not always people who are in financial need," Palmer said. "Sometimes it's the elderly person who isn't comfortable climbing a ladder or people who just aren't handy."

The fire at Madonna Badger's home killed 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah, 9-year-old Lily and Badger's parents. The city determined the cause was accidental.

Interim Fire Chief Peter Brown, who responded to the fire, said Stamford firefighters were deeply affected.

"In my more than 40 years in the fire service, the actual traumatic effects on the firefighters from that incident was the worst I've seen," he said.

Palmer said the initial surge in public awareness has subsided in the past two years.

Stamford officials mailed notices detailing the new fire safety requirements with July tax bills. Residents were asked to sign a form certifying that they had the proper smoke alarm equipment installed and mail it back to the city. About 20 percent of residents responded and city officials say more notices will be mailed with tax bills in January.

Stamford has a program for people who can not afford detectors or safely install them themselves. To get a smoke detector, call 203-977-5555.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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