An inspection of an apartment fire in Keene, New Hampshire, revealed a dangerous practice. According to the fire chief, the residents in the building did not have working smoke detectors when a cooking fire broke out and consumed six of the apartments, reports the Keene Sentinel.

Fortunately for the families, everyone was able to get out without injury. But it could have been much worse. The fire chief said that in the apartment where the fire started, the smoke detector had been removed by the tenant. When other detectors were inspected, firefighters found that most of them had their batteries removed. There were also some that were too old or required maintenance.

Who is responsible?

According to the fire chief, both tenants and landlords are responsible for smoke detector maintenance. It is up to the tenant to report to the landlord when there is a problem, and landlords should conduct yearly inspections. The landlord did say that she checked them but only in the common areas, not in the private units.

The smoke detectors in the undamaged areas have been upgraded. The landlord is also working with the fire department to ensure her other properties meet the fire code.

Many people tragically lose their lives every year due to a malfunctioning or neglected smoke detector. That annoying chirp they make when the battery is low is there for a reason. When the batteries are removed and not replaced, the detector won’t be able to warn you in the event of a fire. You should use the test button on your smoke detector monthly to see if it still works and change the battery as needed. It could save you and your family’s life.

If you have been the victim of a fire, we have several resources you may find helpful: