I was talking with a retired firefighter recently about a fire that he experienced in his home. He shared that as he and his...

I was talking with a retired firefighter recently about a fire that he experienced in his home. He shared that as he and his wife had just laid down the night before when they both began to smell something burning. They got up and investigated and found that the control panel of their dishwasher on fire. He told me that brand of dishwasher has had numerous recalls, but they did not include his. I am certain that they cut the power by shutting off the breaker, and the fire was controlled. He said it was pushing black smoke. He said that they had to hang fans and did several things to get rid of the smoke.

I asked the obvious question: Do you have working smoke alarms? He said they do and also have a residential sprinkler system. The point was that they smelled something burning before their smoke alarms activated, and because it had just occurred there was not enough heat to set off the sprinkler heads.

Had this situation started a bit later, they would have been awoken by their smoke alarms activating. For the smoke alarms to activate, enough smoke must get to that first smoke alarm. One thing that they realized after the fact was the smoke was unable to get to the first smoke alarm due to vaulted ceilings and their ceiling fans being on. They decided to add additional smoke alarms for greater protection.

You have heard me say before that if a smoke alarm is a nuisance alarm, do not disable it, move it. If smoke alarms are all wired together, then they will all sound when one is set off. If they are not connected, the first one to activate will be the only one until smoke reaches the next one. Had the sprinkler system activated, it would have either extinguished the fire or held the fire in check until everyone got out safely.

Concerning appliances, one should research to see if any recalls exist. Recalls are sent out once a problem is noted by the consumers, which is the best form of quality control. The problem is that one must research appliances to know if a recall exists. After our conversation, I looked up his brand of dishwasher. I could see the recall, brand, model numbers, etc.

I asked my friend if I could share their story, and he said yes. This story has many different learning points. First, without researching, we might not know that our appliance has a recall. The next thing is that, even though we have what appears to be more than enough smoke alarms, proper activation could be affected by construction features and the disruption of air flow. In this case, the vaulted ceilings, the location of the smoke alarms and ceiling fans being turned on caused a delay in their activation due to the location of the fire and low ceiling in the kitchen.

A problem detected, by whatever means, must be corrected.

If you are a person who never thinks that a fire will happen in your home, I hope that this incident serves as a wake-up call for you.

Merry Christmas!