Working smoke detectors are a must.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A working smoke detector is a must, and if possible, consider living in a building that has a sprinkler system.

Fire gutted an apartment building in Lowell early Thursday. Dozens of residents escaped, but 7 people, including 3 children, did not. “The victims are found in two of the third floor apartments.”

The century-old building did not have a sprinkler system; a tragic wake up call for some people. According to David Lafond of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, “There is no other device known that is more effective at extinguishing fire quickly. It’s the fastest way that you can get water on a fire.”

Former Holyoke Fire Chief David Lafond told 22News kids and the elderly have difficulties escaping a fire quickly. So a sprinkler system could save their lives. The expense totals between 1 to 1.5% of the total building cost.

Right now in Massachusetts, individual homes are not required to have sprinklers, but there are ongoing efforts to pass a bill that would give local cities and towns an option to require sprinklers in all new one or two family homes.

Fire officials urge everyone, no matter where you live, to have working smoke detectors near your bedroom. Lt. CJ Bartone of the West Springfield Fire Department told 22News, “You may not actually hear the detector if the detector was working on the other side of the house. Putting one not only in the common areas, in the hallways, but also in the bedrooms, when you’re sleeping at night, a working detector should alert them.”

You should change the batteries in your smoke detectors twice a year, and remember to check the expiration dates for the detectors. Some need to replace every 10 years.

As for the deadly fire in Lowell, a relative has identified five family members who died. Torn Sak, and his girlfriend, Ellen Vuong, died along with three of their children; a 7-year-old girl, a 9-year-old boy and a 12-year-old boy.

Originally appeared on Author Yoojin Cho

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