Norwalk engines 2, 5, Truck 2, Rescue 2, Car 2 and Truck 1 (RIT) were called to Shadybrook Ln. early wednesday morning at approximately 4:00 am for a reported structure fire in the residence. Firefighters had smoke showing from the eaves of the residential structure and were met by the homeowner on the front lawn. According to the homeowner, everyone was out of the residence and the fire was in a bedroom on the second floor. Firefighters from Engine 2 stretched a preconnect to the second floor with the help of the Rescue as Truck 2 vented. Engine 5 laid a feeder line as a precaution, but the fire was able to be contained with tank water. Members of engine 2 were able to make a quick knockdown and prevented extension out of the bedroom. The second floor did sustain smoke damage and at this time, the fire is under investigation. The HOUR article follows:
By JILL BODACH
Hour Staff Writer
NORWALK — The health risks of cigarette smoking are well-publicized, but fire officials are warning smokers that even when cigarettes aren't being smoked, they can be deadly.
At 4:08 a.m. Wednesday firefighters were called to 2 Shady Brook Lane for a fire in the second floor bedroom.
"Luckily, both people in the house got out okay and the fire was contained to the bedroom and upstairs hallway," said Deputy Fire Chief Steve Shay.
The cause of the fire: an unattended, lit cigarette. It is the third house fire in 2007 caused by a cigarette. The first, Jan. 15 in the Dreamy Hollow apartment complex, killed an elderly woman, and the second was Feb. 2 when a West Rocks Road home was badly damaged by a fire.
According to Norwalk Fire Marshal Glenn Iannaccone, smoking is the leading cause of all fire deaths in the United States.
"Smoking accounts for 25 percent of all fire deaths, killing 1,000 and injuring 4,000 people each year," Iannaccone said. "These fires cost $4 billion a year in this country."
A 2004 report by the National Fire Protection Association showed that the number of cigarette fires increased by 19 percent from 2003.
""If you're smoking in bed and fall asleep, it's a problem," Iannaccone said. "Smokers should use a deep ash tray so the butt doesn't fall out. They also shouldn't throw their butts in trash cans because they think they are out but they aren't."
The other danger with cigarettes is that when they fall onto a piece of furniture they often take a long time to ignite.
"If a butt falls into a couch it can stay there for four hours before the fire starts flaring," Iannaccone said.
There is a group called the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes that is calling for manufacturers to immediately produce and market only cigarettes that adhere to an established fire safety performance standard. Fire-safe cigarette laws have already been passed in Massachusetts, Vermont, Illinois, New York, New Hampshire, California, and Canada.
According to the group's Web site, a fire-safe cigarette has a reduced likelihood that it will burn when left unattended because it is wrapped with two or three thin bands of less-porous paper that act as "speed bumps" to slow down a burning cigarette. If a fire-safe cigarette is left unattended, the burning tobacco will reach one of these bands and self-extinguish.
This concept has been around since 1929 when a cigarette-ignited fire in Lowell, Mass., caught the attention of U.S. Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers who called for the National Bureau of Standards to develop technology for "self-snubbing" cigarettes. The cigarettes were developed in 1932, but no cigarette manufacturer took the advice of the Bureau.
In 1974, the U.S. Senate approved a bill, introduced by Sen. Phil Hart, D-Michigan, to require "self-extinguishing" cigarettes, but Hart's bill was defeated by the tobacco lobby in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Iannaccone said that he and his fire inspectors would "definitely support" legislation mandating these cigarettes in Connecticut.
Unattended cigarettes are not the only concern raised by the recent fires. Both the fatal fire at Dreamy Hollow and Wednesday's fire took place in homes where the smoke detectors were not working.
Iannaccone recommend that homeowners check the batteries in their smoke detectors twice a year when they change their clocks. Daylight Savings Time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday.