Cedar Rapids woman charged for removing smoke alarms - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids woman charged for removing smoke alarms

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- The Cedar Rapids Fire Department says a woman has been charged for removing the smoke alarm inside her apartment.

Susan Heins, 35, was charged with violation of Iowa Code 100.18 (7)(8), a simple misdemeanor after leaving the scene of the apartment fire at 433 4th Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids.

It is unlawful for a person to render inoperable a smoke alarm, which is required to be installed in a multi-family dwelling, by tampering. This includes the removal of the smoke alarm from the wall or ceiling.

There were five adults and two children in other apartments that were able to safely escape the apartment fire that originated in Heins' apartment on January 4, 2011 . Cedar Rapids Fire Crews say working smoke alarms in the apartment that was on fire could have provided early warning to not only Heins, but to surrounding apartments. The other tenants were alerted of the fire by neighbors.

Experts say working smoke alarms can reduce a family's risk of dying in a fire by nearly 50 percent. Smoke alarms are required to be installed in rental properties. It is not only unlawful for a tenant to remove the smoke alarm, but it is particularly dangerous for the occupants and neighbors to not have potentially life-saving early detection of fire and smoke that would be afforded with a working smoke alarm.

The Fire Department has determined that the fire at 433 4th Avenue SW was caused by careless smoking. Fire investigators say the occupant, Susan Heins, fell asleep on the couch with a cigarette burning and was awakened when the couch started on fire. Because the smoke alarm was rendered inoperable there was no early warning and the fire progressed rapidly undetected.

Heins has been charged with tampering with fire equipment and was allowed to delay her initial appearance.


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