Roanoke Fire-EMS hosts discussion on newly-passed smoke alarm ordinance

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 10:32 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Based on questions from the public about Roanoke City Council’s passage of a new smoke alarm ordinance, Roanoke Fire-EMS hosted a live question and-answer period with the community, hosted by Deputy Chief David Guynn.

“Education and outreach is our goal. This is one of the few ordinances, code violations or anything that the city is willing to fix and go out and help people fix and help people repair.”

Roanoke Fire-EMS hopes the smoke detector ordinance will stop fires before they happen. It makes sure landlords have the devices installed in rental units before residents move in.

“This ordinance was not designed for 99% of landlords. So this ordinance was designed for the 1% of landlords who have an issue, who are made aware of the issue, and who continue to fail to rectify it in in multiple properties.”

Once residents move in, though, it becomes up to the renters to make sure their device is working.

“Landlords cannot and we will not hold them responsible for tenants tampering with or removing smoke alarms.”

Guynn said around half of the fires they respond to overall involve broken or tampered-with smoke detectors.

“I would say 40 to 50% of the time, there’s an issue with the smoke alarms. This isn’t just rental properties, this is everywhere. There’s nothing that we hate to see more than a smoke alarm after a fire where it’s hanging open and the battery is clearly missing.”

Landlords found not to supply smoke detectors could now face a misdemeanor. But Roanoke Fire-EMS is hoping they can use this ordinance more for education and outreach in the community.

Residents can request a free smoke detector from the city and can always reach out to Roanoke Fire-EMS about having their smoke detectors checked, as well.

To find the full stream of the question-and-answer session, head to the Roanoke Fire-EMS Facebook page here.