Press Releases

State Distributing 20,000 Smoke Detectors

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance; November 21, 2012:  

NASHVILLE, TN – Fresh off the news from the National Fire Protection Association that Tennessee has improved its fatal-fire rankings by four positions, on Nov. 27, the State Fire Marshal’s Office will begin distributing smoke alarms to the counties most likely to have residential fire deaths.

“This massive, statewide, months-long distribution of smoke alarms is all part of our effort to both educate and equip Tennesseans to incorporate fire safety into their daily lives,” Tennessee Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said. “We want residents to make sure they have functional smoke alarms in their homes, as well as a rehearsed fire-escape plan. These are tools proven to save lives – because even one fire death is one too many.” The program kicks off 10 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 27, at Elizabethton Fire Department in Carter County.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office has been awarded a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Fire Prevention Grant to purchase 20,000 smoke alarms for installations across the state of Tennessee. Eight thousand of these alarms will be distributed by the end of December 2012. The remaining 12,000 alarms will be distributed throughout the first 6 months of 2013.

For many years, Tennessee has held the undesirable ranking of the state with the second-most fire deaths in the nation. The State Fire Marshal’s Office has been committed to working alongside local fire departments to reduce this high fire mortality rate. These efforts were reflected when the NFPA recently released its latest report of U.S. Unintentional Fire Death Rates by State and listed Tennessee as having the sixth-most fire deaths in the nation.

“While this is a major improvement, the State Fire Marshal’s Office wants Tennesseans to know that the work does not stop there,” Fire Prevention Assistant Commissioner Gary West said. “We are thankful our incorporation of scientific data to pinpoint at-risk areas across the state is paying off in a reduction of fire deaths.” The State Fire Marshal’s Office is targeting 78 Census tracts across the state that have been identified as having the highest risk for fire fatalities. These areas were identified as part of a study done by the University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service and the Tennessee Municipal League. According to the study, several social, economic, and housing variables correspond with residential fire deaths. These included education variables, median household incomes and median home values.

These variables were used to identify the census tracts in which no fire deaths had yet occurred, but we’re most like those tracts where fire deaths had occurred during 2002-2010.

The distribution will start with the following dates and locations:

  • Tuesday, November 27, 10:00 a.m.
    Elizabethton, TN (Carter County)
    Elizabethton Fire Department
    121 S. Sycamore Street
    Counties targeted: Carter, Johnson, Unicoi, Washington, Sullivan
  • Wednesday, November 28, 10:00 a.m.
    Greeneville, TN (Greene County)
    Tusculum Fire Department
    145 Alexander Street
    Counties targeted: Greene, Cocke, Hamblen, Jefferson
  •  Wednesday, November 28, 5:30 p.m.
    Rogersville, TN (Hawkins County)
    Rogersville Fire Department
    106 E. Kyle Street
    Counties targeted: Hawkins, Grainger, Hancock, Claiborne

The following week, the State Fire Marshal’s Office will go to the southeast portion of the state. That will be followed by distribution in West Tennessee and in Middle Tennessee. For distribution updates, go to

In addition to the smoke alarm distribution program, the State Fire Marshal’s Office is joining the Kidde Company in their efforts to increase public awareness of the importance of having working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan. The State Fire Marshal’s Office and Kidde are encouraging everyone to visit and take the “Be a Hero, Save a Hero” pledge to help protect your family and our firefighters.

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