Hartman backs smoke alarm item

An ordinance would require all new rentals to have interactive smoke detectors.
WARREN -- A councilwoman is standing behind legislation that requires interactive smoke detectors in all rental properties, even though some council members and landlords have called it ineffective legislation.
The ordinance, co-sponsored by Susan Hartman, D-7th, Vincent Flask, D-5th, and Fiore Dippolito, D-1st, prohibits the leasing of any home unless there is one interactive smoke detector on every floor of the building.
With interactive smoke detectors, if one detects smoke, all of the detectors in the house also sound the alarm.
The legislation is a good compromise between council members and landlords, Hartman said at a council finance committee meeting Monday. Council will take up this legislation tonight.
"Even if this doesn't pass tomorrow, I can go home and look in the mirror and know that I did my very best to protect the renters in this city," she said.
Hartman, Flask and Dippolito have also introduced companion legislation that would punish renters for disabling smoke detectors. Renters would be fined for every day that a smoke detector was not in working condition.
Not enough
However, Councilmen Gary Fonce, D-at-Large, and Andrew Barkley, D-3rd, said that they think the proposed ordinance would only punish landlords without addressing the real safety issues.
"The deaths aren't happening because there aren't any smoke detectors," Barkley said. "The deaths are happening because people pull the plug on the smoke detectors or remove the batteries."
Bill and Bob Kruppa, who own several rentals in Warren, have asked council to reject the legislation. The Kruppas asked council members at their Nov. 8 meeting to focus instead on educating residents on the proper use of smoke detectors, and making smoke detectors and batteries more available to low-income residents.
The ordinance would require all new rentals to have the interactive detectors by 2007, Hartman said. Older rentals would be required to have them before the renewal of their license in either April or October of next year.

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