UPDATE: As you move your clocks forward this weekend, firefighters say it's a good time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Firefighters and volunteers will go door to door to make sure people have working alarms.

As of March 1st, there have been 30 fire fatalities in Tennessee. That’s about double the amount compared to last year. It’s why the state fire marshal's office urging residents to focus on fire prevention during the winter months.

Martha Thirkill, a Highland Park Resident knows it only takes seconds for flames to destroy a home. 

"I look at fires and things that happen to other people and it really upsets me. And sometimes I say how this can happen?” she said. However, they do happen, and unfortunately, some turn deadly.

Fire marshals say many could've been prevented if working smoke detectors were installed.

"It smells the smoke, it alerts the residents there's a problem to get out and stay out until the fire department says it's clear,” said Chuck Hartung, Chattanooga Fire Department.

This weekend firefighters will go door to door to install the alarms, test existing ones, and install fresh batteries if needed.

Thurkill hopes to receive one of the free alarms because she knows it will alert her when it matters.

"When that thing says beep, I’m on the floor, I’m up and ready!" Thurkill said. Chattanooga fire picks two communities a year that are considered to be at risk.

"A lot of older homes, a lot of older generation people, people do live there that need this assistance,” Hartung explained. Volunteers checked on roughly 250 homes in the Lookout Valley area after two critical fires.

"It always pays to be really safe and careful, you never know what will happen,” Thurkill said.

Chattanooga fire says they have free smoke detectors, just give them a call if you need assistance. If you don't live in Chattanooga, you can contact your local fire department to see if they are distributing smoke alarms.

Here are some additional important reminders from the state fire marshal:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of the home, including the basement. For best protection, smoke alarms should be installed inside and outside sleeping rooms. Make sure everyone can hear the alarm and knows what it sounds like. 
  • For the best protection, equip your home with a combination of ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms or dual-sensor alarms. Interconnect the alarms so that when one sounds, they all sound.                                                       
  • Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are available and are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps on these units, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
  • For smoke alarms with any other type of battery, replace batteries at least once a year (preferably twice a year during daylight saving time). If that alarm chirps, replace only the battery.
  • Remember, even alarms that are hard-wired into your home electrical system need to have their battery back-ups maintained in case of electrical power outage.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning to keep smoke alarms working well. The instructions are included in the package or can be found on the internet.
  • Test alarms once a month using the test button. Replace the entire alarm if it's 10 years old or older or if it fails to sound when tested.
  • Devise a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a designated outside meeting place. Share and practice the plan with all who live in the home, including children.
  • When a smoke alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately and go to your pre-planned meeting place to call 911.

PREVIOUS STORY: The Chattanooga Fire Department, partnering with the American Red Cross, will team up to distribute free smoke alarms to homes in the Highland Park area of Chattanooga this weekend.  

The smoke alarms will be distributed Saturday, March 10, 2018, starting at 10:00am at Chattanooga Parks & Recreation  Center at 1102 South Watkins Street.

Firefighters and Red Cross volunteers will canvass the neighborhood, knocking on each door and offering to install smoke alarms, test existing smoke alarms to ensure that they work, or install fresh batteries if needed. Fire safety materials are also distributed for educational purposes. 

The public safety campaign is designed to save lives and coincides with the semi-annual time change. It also serves as a reminder as clocks are changed forward one hour, it's a good time to also put fresh batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.