Laurel Fire Victim Calls for Change to State Code - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Laurel Fire Victim Calls for Change to State Code

Posted: 09/21/2017 11:24:00 -04:00 Updated:

LAUREL, Del. - Richard Turner says a fire that destroyed his home last week could have been prevented if Delaware's state fire protection regulations were different. 

The State Fire Marshal's office confirms that the fire was caused by a staple piercing electrical wiring in the attic. Turner says that wire was attached to his smoke alarm, and in Delaware, smoke alarm circuits must have lock on devices on them. Turner says in his home, the lock on device kept the breaker from tripping and therefore alerting him of any issues. 

"We are the only state in the United States that has this law with putting the locks on smoke detector breakers and not having them on safety breakers which are also called arc fault breakers," Turner, a master electrician, says. "Had we had our smoke detector on an arc fault breaker, our smoke detector system would have the breaker [that] detected the fault in the wire and simply tripped off. We wouldn't be standing here today right here talking to you."

Delaware's state fire protection regulations are enforced by the State Fire Marshal's Office. Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael Chionchio says it's not clear what could or couldn't have been detected or prevented before Turner's home caught fire.
"The circuit was protected by a circuit breaker and the lock on device still allows the breaker to trip," he says. "The lock on device is designed so the circuit breaker cannot be accidentally turned off. 
Chionchio says further testing and analysis is required to determine what led up to this fire, and that will be left up to the discretion of the insurance company. 
Turner says his circuit should have been on a arc fault breaker per the National Electric Code and those breaker locks do not allow the breaker to trip. He says his home is an example that state code must change.
"I'm hoping [the state] takes a good look at this because my family lost everything," he says. Thank god we got away with our lives."


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