Is your Smoke Detector Effective? Maybe Not.

Push to Address Possible Danger in Smoke Detectors
City Limits
by Bill Hughes
March 27, 2013

A popular kind of detector is poor at sensing certain types of fires. Some lawmakers want New York City to require property owners to also install a more expensive kind.

Jeremy Paniagua's mother died saving his life after a fire broke out in their two-bedroom apartment in East Harlem in February 2005. His mother, Jeanette Montanez, threw her 11-year-old son into a bathtub and covered him with her body to protect him from the flames. Her silhouette was burned onto the flesh of his back by the intense heat and flames.

"His back is burned pretty badly, but you can see the patch where she held him, where she put her head between his shoulder blades and where she held onto his right arm," says Mallory Claudio, Jeremy's older sister, who was pulled out of the 112th Street apartment by firefighters.

Investigators later determined the fire that killed Montanez was started by a cigarette. And while there was a working smoke detector in the apartment, it may have failed to give the kind of advanced warning that allows people to flee fires with their lives, and without scarring burns.

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