COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – In wake of recent residential fires, WRBL sat down with Fire Marshall Division Chief, John Shull, to discuss the importance of home security that does not infringe on fire safety. He said so far this year, there have been 251 residential fires in the Fountain City.

Chief Shull said certain security systems such as burglar bars can present an obstacle to firefighters responding to a call and increase response time.

“On average, you have about two minutes and 14 seconds to get out of your home before the entire structure is either filled with smoke or burning to the level where it’s not survivable anymore,” said Chief Shull.

Burglar bars are an effective way to ensure home security but also pose a threat during a house fire. Bars and other security systems tend to be installed shortly after a break-in occurs.

According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), “about 25 people are injured or die in house fires every year because their exits are blocked by burglar bars or gates.”

Along with security bars, Chief Shull emphasized the importance of fire safety equipment like smoke detectors. He said early detection can be all the difference between life and death. Smoke detectors serve as an early signal to the presence of smoke, giving families enough time to escape the home and call first responders.

“You want quick notification or a quick alert system telling you that you have a fire or smoke in your home so that you can act and get out of your home as quick as you can,” said Chief Shull.

He said it’s important to have an emergency escape plan and emergency release in place that everyone in the household is aware of. Emergency releases can include a lever, button or pedal on the floor that provides an immediate way to escape a house fire.