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Boston City Leaders Push For Change In Smoke Detector Law

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BOSTON (CBS) – Think you’re safe with a working smoke detector in your home? Maybe not. Local lawmakers are acting on an I-Team story you saw first on WBZ-TV.

The type of smoke alarm you have will determine how quickly that detector goes off. Now, Boston city councilors are now pushing for a potentially life-saving change in the law.

There’s a call for action from city leaders when it comes to your safety after an I-Team report shows how the most common type of smoke alarms — ionization alarms that work best in flaming fires — don’t always protect you in the some of the deadliest types of smoldering fires. “On average 50 percent of everyone who dies in Massachusetts dies when smoke detectors work and most of those fires are smoldering,” said Boston Deputy Fire Chief Jay Fleming.

Fleming and WBZ’s story took center stage at the Boston City Council Public Safety Hearing. In our test we put ionization alarms which are in most homes and the lesser known photo-electric smoke alarms that work better in smoky fires head to head.

“The fact is, both types work when needed and give you enough time to get out,” said an engineer.

But right now the chair of Boston’s Safety Committee disagrees and says he’s wants photo-electric smoke alarms installed in every home. “We should move quickly to install photo-electric in every business and home in Boston,” said Steve Murphy.

“I have smoke detectors in my home,” said Maureen Feeney. “They’re ions and I can tell you I don’t feel very safe.”

While the debate on this continues firefighters and safety officials say overall the most important thing to remember is to having working smoke alarms in your home and to make sure they have working batteries at all times.

So what’s next for this proposal? As far as the Boston council goes, they’ll hold another hearing next month on this, but Councilor Murphy and Deputy Chief Fleming are hoping to take this fight statewide. They’ve already talked with the governor about that.

© MMVII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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