Smoke detector installed day before fire saves man’s life

Clarksville smoke detector fire
Photo: WKRN

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Clarksville man learned firsthand that smoke alarms work. Firefighters and the American Red Cross gave him one the day before his home went up in flames while he was inside.

The fire happened around 6:20 Sunday morning in the 100 block of Sunset Court.

The man who lives there is Mardoche Olivie, a husband and father of two young children.

“Once I realized I was the only person home, it was just exit,” said Olivie.

Clarksville smoke detector fire
Photo: WKRN

He said he started cooking early Sunday morning, he sat on the couch, and the next thing he knew he fell asleep.

He woke up to the sound of the smoke alarm.

When asked what he would do if he didn’t have one he responded, “Probably would have been burnt bad because I was close enough real close.”

He said when he escaped, “I was thinking about the day before.”

On Saturday, Clarksville firefighters and the American Red Cross came to his home as part of a campaign. They were installing smoke alarms in older homes that didn’t have them.

“It was meant to save my life and that’s what it did,” said Olivie.

Clarksville smoke detector fire
Photo: WKRN

“It’s nice to see the fruit of your labor you did the day before. You usually don’t see that happen and it’s nice that it did save a life and that’s what it’s designed to do,” said Ray Williams, a fire marshal with Clarksville Fire Rescue.

Williams has seen the tragic outcome when there’s no smoke alarm. Just two months ago, Travis Howard Jr., 9, and Ann Howard, 11, were killed in a fire that destroyed their family’s Shelby Street home.

Investigators said the blaze was caused by electrical issues, and the home did not have working smoke detectors at the time.

“With those two children dying, that really made a high awareness about let’s try to get smoke alarms in people’s homes and so far it has worked out really well,” said Williams.

He added that Sunday’s fire is a prime example. “Fire alarms save lives,” said Olivie. “It saved mine.”

Firefighters and the American Red Cross will be installing smoke alarms once again on Oct. 10 as part of the campaign. They will be targeting neighborhoods in Madison, East Nashville, and Clarksville again.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office launched its “Get Alarmed, Tennessee!” program in November 2012. The program is funded by grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Through the program, smoke alarms are distributed to fire departments to be installed in “at-risk homes” across Tennessee.

The installers also explained to News 2 key fire safety tips and encourage residents to create a home fire escape plan. According to the American Red Cross, so far more than 85,000 free smoke alarms have been handed our across the state and the lives of 105 Tennesseans have been saved as a result of the alarms.

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