Jonesboro fire marshal warns against faulty smoke alarms

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- A Jonesboro man died Tuesday after being pulled from his apartment on Friday when a fire broke out in his kitchen. The fire happened at an apartment building on State Street just off Johnson Ave. Fire Marshall Jason Wills said they discovered the smoke alarm in the apartment did not have a battery.

Wills said as we get ready to spring forward, it's important to check the batteries in your smoke alarm and make sure they are placed in the right location. For one Jonesboro man, a proper detector could have save his family's life.

"Three years ago, February this year I lost three kids to a house fire and a mother," said Byron Ruff Sr.

He said he got the call at work and couldn't believe what he was told.

"Two weeks before the fire happened, I was trying to figure out what to do for my son's 3rd birthday and I actually had to pull the plug four days before he dies," Ruff said.

After this tragic event, Ruff said he tries to educate the community on the importance of smoke alarms and fire safety.

"As a reminder, what I try to do not just for myself but for other people, so other people don't keep reliving the same thing I relived," he said.

By spreading awareness Ruff said he hopes to save a family by learning from his own tragedy.

"Most people do not know about or think about when they move into an apartment or house, let me see if there is a smoke detector here," he said. "I don't want nobody else to feel what I have to go through year end and year out, not only day end and day out."

Captain Jason Wills is the Jonesboro Fire Marshal and said after having their first fire related death of the year, they want to remind residents to take the proper precautions.

"Either they have nuisance alarm or the placement of the smoke detector is not correct so they either take the battery out or remove the device and basically they're left unprotected," Wills said.

He said the perfect time to check your detector is on March 9th when you spring forward.

"Go ahead and change your batteries, don't wait until the device begins to chirp or indicate that there is a problem, just be proactive," Wills said.

And make sure they are placed in the right location.

"They are needed the most typically when people are asleep so that's where they should be located, where a person is sleeping," he said. "The first line of defense is a smoke alarm the next line of defense is having a plan, if you have a family with children educate them on what to do if there is a fire."

The Jonesboro Fire Department gives away smoke alarms and will install it for free.

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