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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Berkowitz: New smoke detector law is "aimed at saving lives"

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The Westmont Village Board discussed several topics regarding fire safety during its meeting on Nov. 3.

Fire Prevention Bureau Director Neil Berkowitz discussed a recent statewide smoke detector law that's set to be updated. While other laws are currently in effect, the update will be current with recent technology and make smoke detectors both more efficient and more cost-effective for residents. Berkowitz recommended that residents update their smoke detectors, change their batteries every six months, and install a smoke detector on every level of their house.

According to Berkowitz, the National Fire Protection Association reported that three out of every five residential fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke detectors, and that modern homes are at an increased risk of fires due to current building and furniture materials. In contrast, the death rate in homes with working alarms is 55% lower. The new law will require that all smoke detectors in need of replacing will be replaced with the newest approved model.

"The new requirement just updates the law to reflect changes and new technology," Berkowitz said. "It's aimed at saving lives while making it easier, more cost-effective for all residents to comply. And nothing is more heartbreaking than responding to a fatal fire and finding nonworking smoke detectors in a home."

In addition, the village board voted to update the local code regarding building and fire safety, as the older codes hadn't been updated in the last decade, although codes are routinely revised to meet new expectations for safety and quality. Both the building commissioner and the fire chief repeatedly read through codes to ensure that they are both updated and benefitting village residents.

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