- Associated Press - Sunday, February 7, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - More than half the people killed last year by house fires in Mississippi were in homes without working smoke alarms, the Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Office said.

Fire Marshal Mike Chaney points said his office investigated 55 fire deaths in 2015, and found that a bit more than half either had no smoke alarm or had non-working smoke alarms.

Seven Mississippi State students who survived a fire last week are proof that smoke alarms save lives, he said. Chaney said the alarm in their rented house woke one student about 2:30 a.m., and he woke the others so they all got out safely.

“Fortunately, the landlord of this house had been proactive … and had had the home hard-wired with interconnected smoke alarms. It was a very smart thing to do,” said City of Starkville Fire Marshal Mark McCurdy. “Had that smoke alarm not worked,. I have no doubt we would have been dealing with multiple fatalities.”

Chaney said his office works with local fire departments to install smoke alarms in high-risk homes and homes with older adults, children, and people with disabilities. Alarms installed in 27,000 homes include more than 54,000 standard smoke alarms, 209 bed-shaker devices and 75 strobe smoke alarms, he said.

He said local fire departments are now teaming with the Red Cross to install more smoke alarms, and anyone in need of a smoke alarm should contact the local fire department.

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