Almost three weeks after flames ripped through a Silver Spring apartment building, filling floors with smoke and claiming the life of 25-year-old Melanie Diaz, Montgomery County firefighters are hitting the street with a safety campaign this weekend.
They are reaching out to residents in older apartment buildings that don’t have sprinkler systems installed.
“Just that opportunity to get people thinking about their safety, and one question leads into two, and two leads into four and five,” Chief Scott Goldstein said.
From Friday to Sunday, firefighters will visit all 76 apartment buildings in the county that don’t have working sprinkler systems, leaving materials like with property managers and residents going over the best ways to stay safe in an emergency.
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“Having an exit path and an exit plan,” Goldstein said. “Knowing two ways out.”
Firefighters also will be out across the county reminding residents to check their smoke alarms. Goldstein said the department normally engages with the community ahead of daylight saving.
“Each time we change our clocks, we’re at the big box stores, the grocery stores, the Home Depots,” he said.
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The chief said five Montgomery County residents died in fires in a three-week span between the middle of January and February – the total number of fatalities they typically see in a year.
Goldstein hopes the information will go a long way to save lives.
“If you’re in an apartment without a sprinkler system, have your plan,” he said.
Under current law, all apartment buildings in the state that don’t have sprinklers have 10 years to install those systems.