‘They make a difference:’ MFD stresses importance of smoke alarms in wake of fatal fire

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee fire officials stressed on Friday, March 15 the importance of working smoke alarms in the wake of a house fire that left two people dead near 39th and Silver Spring earlier this week. Firefighters say there were no working smoke alarms in the home.

Rayveon Cunningham and Gary Pitts

A 67-year-old man and 4-year-old child died after being pulled from a burning home on Wednesday. The victims were identified as Rayveon Cunningham, 4, and Gary Pitts, 67. A woman and infant made it out of the burning home on their own.

Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing took the opportunity on Friday to stress the importance of making sure homes have those alarms -- and that they are checked regularly.

"We all get complacent. We all have that thought it won't happen to me," said Chief Rohlfing.

The best way to survive a house fire is by escaping quickly. Officials say a working smoke alarm buys you the most time.

Milwaukee Fire Department stresses importance of smoke alarms

Milwaukee Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing

"It is the difference between life and death," Rohlfing said. "They make a difference. They allow us to find out about that fire when there's just a little bit of smoke in the air. They allow us to be able to wake our loved ones, get out of bed, and get out of the house."

The Milwaukee Fire Department spread their message door-to-door in the neighborhood of the fire; testing alarms and installing new ones free of charge where needed.

"This brought it to the forefront," said Deborah Henderson, who received a new smoke alarm. "Need to have it taken care of. With them coming it took care of my problem. I appreciate it."

The fire chief also reminded the public about making sure you close doors to bedrooms when going to sleep.

"There's something we talk about all the time," Rohlfing said. "Close before you dose. Simply shut your bedroom door. If we can compartmentalize that bedroom, there's almost no smoke heat or fire damage that happens to that bedroom. You can actually live through the fire by shutting that bedroom door."

Milwaukee Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing

If your home needs a smoke alarm and you do not have the resources to get one yourself, you can call the Milwaukee Fire Department Smoke Alarm Hotline at 414-286-8980. Firefighters will come to your residence to deliver and install a smoke alarm.

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