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Archived News Release from 2003

For Immediate Release

Fire Department Credits Smoke Detector With Saving Family of Five During Home Fire

Redwood City, CA - October 30, 2003 - An early-morning fire in Redwood City could easily have turned fatal, but instead illustrates the life-saving value of having functioning smoke detectors in the home.

At approximately 5:10 a.m. today (October 30th), Redwood City, Menlo Park, Woodside, and South County firefighters responded to a report of a structure fire in an apartment building on Wayne Court in Redwood City. Upon arrival, they found a significant fire in a ground floor apartment, with fire dangerously lapping up the side of the building.

The occupants reported that they had been awakened by a smoke detector in the apartment and as a result were able to quickly evacuate the building just prior to the bedroom bursting into flames. The fire then had traveled out of the bedroom window to the building’s exterior wall, and also into the apartment’s living room. Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the first floor unit, which suffered extensive fire damage, along with damage to the exterior of the building. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it appears to be accidental.

Because this apartment had a functioning smoke detector, this family of five escaped this terrifying disaster without injury. Without a working smoke alarm in the apartment, the result would unfortunately have been much worse, and likely fatal. In fact, a fire in the City of Concord this morning killed an occupant - there was no functioning smoke detector on the premises. The Wayne Court family also followed the fire safety theme of “Get Out and Stay Out!” Many fire fatalities occur because there is not a functioning smoke alarm, or once the family has evacuated, a family member re-enters the burning structure and is killed by the sudden growth of the fire. With appropriate fire safety measures in the home, such as smoke detectors, and the right action in the event of fire – “Get Out and Stay Out!” – injury and death due to a fire can be avoided.

More information on the use of smoke detectors in the home, and other fire-safety tips, can be found online at, and at

The Redwood City Fire Department has five fire stations housing five engines and one truck, and currently has over 70 staff members including firefighters, firefighter/paramedics, captains and battalion chiefs, fire prevention staff, training staff, and administrative staff. Visit Redwood City’s website at for information about the City and its services, the community, recreation programs, education, City government, and local business.

Gerry Kohlmann, Chief
Redwood City Fire Department
(650) 780-7451

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