Prevention & Safety

The Martinsville Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department is dedicated to helping make our community a better, safer place to live.


In case of an emergency, dial 911.

Smoke Detectors

Nearly four thousand Americans die every year in residential fires. Most of these deaths are not from heat or flames but from inhaling smoke and toxic fumes. Smoke is actually the particles of combustion generated by what is burning - paper, wood, chemicals, plastic, upholstery, or other fuels.

When a smoke detector senses smoke, an alarm automatically sounds. Most fatal home fires occur between 8 pm and 8 am. Fires often generate lethal amounts of unseen smoke and fumes well before flames are visible and before heat makes residents feel uncomfortably warm. As a result, many people who die in home fires are asleep and never wake up. When carefully purchased, installed, and maintained, smoke detectors can prevent such needless deaths. Smoke detectors buy time to get out of the house fast- before toxic fumes accumulate to lethal levels.

Check for the following:

  • Quality, not price, should be the determining factor when buying smoke detectors
  • Laboratory label, insuring that samples of the model you are buying have been carefully tested
  • Alarm is loud enough to awaken the family through closed bedroom doors
  • Malfunction signal, to warn you when batteries are weak or dead
  • Manufacturer's warranty of at least five years
  • Ease in maintenance and cleaning

Buy as many smoke detectors as it takes to give your home complete coverage. You obviously increase your chances of survival with each detector that you have, but one on each level of the house is the absolute minimum. You should have a smoke detector in each bedroom, in the hallway close to each sleeping area and in heavily-occupied areas like the living room. When bedroom doors are left open, you should have at least one detector in the hallway outside the bedroom area.

Follow the manufacturer's installation instructions. On the ceilings, mount the device away from corners and walls, which have dead air space nearby. About eight to ten inches is the recommended distance. On walls, install the detectors high, because smoke rises, and place them eight to ten inches away from the corners and ceiling. Install smoke detectors at least three feet from vents, which might recirculate the smoke. Never place smoke detectors on uninsulated walls or ceilings. Extreme temperatures can ruin batteries and prevent smoke from reaching the detectors.

Maintenance Check List

  1. Test your smoke detector at least once a month
  2. Replace weak or worn-out batteries at once
  3. Never borrow smoke detector batteries for other uses
  4. Keep extra batteries on hand
  5. Change batteries at least twice a year
  6. Dust and vacuum smoke detectors at least twice a year
  7. Make sure smoke detectors are working when you return home after an extended absence

Contact Us

For more information on our Smoke Detector program, please call the Martinsville Fire and EMS Department at 276-403-5325.