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Fire deaths dropping in Indiana credited to smoke alarms

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Efforts to help protect Hoosiers from house fires is paying off.

The Department of Homeland Security says last year's saw an eight percent drop in fire related deaths.

Smoke alarms are often the first warning for people to be able to escape a fire with their lives.

With the number of fire related deaths dropping in Indiana, credit is going to the efforts of local firefighters and the Red Cross.

Since 2014, nearly 32,000 smoke detectors have been installed with help from these two groups.

"Last month they announced 332 lives were saved, documented nationally from this program. And I think about 12 of those have been in Indiana,” said Red Cross Executive Director, Sue Gulley.

The National Fire Protection Association says 60-percent of fire deaths are due to homes either not having a detector that works or not having one at all.

Those are deaths that Indiana State Fire Marshall Tim Greeson says are preventable.

"It's an indication that we need to work harder. We can never stop with the awareness programs,” said Greeson.

“It's such a simple thing to do to prepare your family and through smoke alarms. Even if you have a working smoke alarm, you have about two minutes to get out of your home,” said Gulley.

Greeson says several cases show the fire alarm was the main turning point in saving lives. Firefighters still remind people to check their alarms to see if they are working.

"Smoke alarms older than 10 years should be replaced because there is a possibility they can lose their sensitivity and may not activate as soon as they should,” said Elkhart Division Chief Aaron Gerber.

Last year, the Red Cross-- across Northern Indiana-- installed more than 2.500 detectors.

"I'd love to see every residence have working smoke alarms where they need them,” Gerber said.

The Red Cross has a national goal of installing 100,000 smoke detectors this year.

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The State Fire Marshal says we should unplug space heaters at night or when we aren't home.

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