Knoxville fire crews go door-to-door to inspect residents’ smoke detectors

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – If you have a smoke detector, does it work?

Knoxville firefighters say the 37917 zip code in North Knoxville has more fires than surrounding areas. Many of the homes are older, and if they are equipped with smoke alarms, many are outdated and simply don’t work.

On top of that, KFD says Tennessee ranks in the top six nationwide for the most fire deaths.

Those facts made WATE 6 On Your Side jump into action. We decided to see for ourselves if some people in our area are protected by smoke detectors.


We went out with several members of Station 11 to knock on doors and get answers. Our first stop was the home of John Tinsley, 91, who graciously welcomed us in.

He told us he just had two brand new smoke detectors installed, but we decided to check them anyway.

One is in a perfect spot: up high and by Tinsley’s bedroom.

“Why is that a good spot?” we wanted to know.

The answer: “It’s high enough that smoke’s going to rise so obviously if there’s fire in the rooms or smoke even, it’ll obviously alert him before it fills the air below.”

We walked to the dining room to check Tinsley’s second new smoke alarm.

It was a lot lower on the wall than the other detector. Officials said it would still do the job, but they would prefer it was a little higher.


It was a simple fix, and we were on our way.

A few houses down, we met Lauren Hughes. She, too, invited us in. Her home has only one smoke detector, and it’s a problem.

“I don’t see anywhere to test this,” said one of the firefighting team.

The detector is in the right spot, high on the wall outside the main bedroom hallway, but it’s about 20 years old, doesn’t work and is wired into the home.

The best quick fix is to leave the old one for an electrician to safely remove the wiring in the attic, but install a new one right away.

Hughes agreed and received a new free smoke alarm next to the old one.

The firefighting team said she needs another one in the dining room, and installed one there, too.

Hughes said she was glad we came by, and we were as well.

“You don’t get people going door to door just to check on your safety so I think that’s pretty amazing. So thanks for doing it.”

If you live within the Knoxville city limits, and you don’t have a smoke detector or want someone to come out and check yours, just call 311 and the fire department will send someone out for an inspection.

If you’re in Knox County, call 211 for the same type of service.

People in outlying areas should call their local fire departments.

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