After 2 fatal fires in a day, DC chief urges having a working smoke detector

D.C. Fire Chief Gregory Dean has said it countless times before, and has to say it yet again: “Smoke detectors save lives.”

Standing in front of a fire-damaged home in the 5200 block of Western Avenue Northwest, the chief and others from D.C. Fire and EMS held a news conference Thursday to stress the importance of having such devices working in the home.

It was at that home on Western Avenue that firefighters carried out a man who later died Tuesday. Earlier that morning, they had fought another house fire in the 2200 block of Lawrence Street Northeast, which left a woman dead.

“Having two fires in the same day where two people perish and they did not have working smoke detectors is really a signal to us to make sure that we’re notifying the public of the importance of smoke detectors,” Dean said, “and making sure they’re aware what they can do to keep themselves and their families safe.”

Early detection in a fire is crucial, he said — “before you become overcome by smoke and you’re unable to do anything.”

The chief also suggested switching to newer-model detectors, which have 10 years of life — eliminating the need to check batteries twice a year as with older models.

“If people are having trouble getting smoke detectors, they can call our fire marshal’s office and go on our website, and we will work with you, because we want to make sure everybody has a working smoke detector,” Dean said.

Wednesday’s arson

Also Thursday, the department asked for the public’s help to find those responsible for an arson Wednesday afternoon at 1871 Monroe St. NW.

No one was injured in the blaze, which began around 2 p.m.

Anyone with information is asked to call (202) 673-2776, or email

“We’d like to make sure that we remove them to keep our streets safe,” Dean said.

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer.

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