TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – The Tampa Fire Department joined the American Red Cross Wednesday to canvass the neighborhood where a grandmother and her three grandsons died in a house fire. The fire broke out Tuesday morning. The victims were trapped inside because of burglar bars outside the home.
Burglar bars work well, said Pablo Flores of Best Made Enterprises Iron Works in Tampa. The problem, Flores said, is a lot of people have older bars. So on Wednesday Flores helped make sure the bars on area homes have release pins.
Flores suggested residents retrofit old bars to include a release pin. The pins are located far enough away so burglars can’t reach them from the outside – but anyone – including children – can pull them from the inside in case of an emergency. “A lot of people have the deadbolt or a pad lock on their windows and some of those windows. The bars – it’s a lifetime addition to your home,” he added.
Flores offered another major suggestion. “If you set yourself mentally and maybe even do a drill and prep yourself for it, obviously you know under a stressful situation you can throw a wet rag over your head and you can come feel for the window,” he said.
The victims’ home didn’t have a working smoke detector. If you need a smoke detector and can’t afford one, most fire departments and the American Red Cross will supply them for you. On Wednesday, the Red Cross even handed detectors out. “If even one life is saved, one family has two minutes to get out their home and it saves their lives, that’s the goal,” said Amanda Cullison from the Red Cross.
Relatives of the victims appreciated the effort. “I would never want this to happy to any other family, and I appreciate Red Cross coming out here and putting fire alarms in these houses because most of these houses are very old, said Carolyn Fletcher, a relative of the victims. “I’m 47, and some of these houses are older than me, so we need that.”