In the early morning on December 26th, 2006 Jim and Elizabeth Reh and family in Wildwood, Mo., awoke to the sound of their front door being smashed in. A candle flame flickering in the dining room, forgotten from the holiday festivities the evening before, started a chain reaction that thankfully didn’t come to a tragic ending. While the family slept, the candle slowly burned down until the melted liquid of the candle with the burning wick dropped on to the buffet. Flames quickly rose, spreading across the buffet’s surface top, while the smoke triggered the smoke detectors which were connected to the family’s monitored alarm system that would initiate the process that would save this family’s lives as well as their home.
A dispatcher from American Burglary and Fire Inc. (ABF), St. Louis, received the fire alarm signal in the central station and made an immediate call to the Reh family home. Since no one answered the phone, the dispatcher called the fire department.
The central station dispatcher called the family’s cell phones. When no one answered, Skip Reh, an ABF employee and the brother of Jim Reh was called and informed of the situation being reported.
While the dispatcher continued to make notification calls, the fire department arrived. A quick check revealed that flames were indeed present and starting to spread up the walls. A fireman broke out a glass panel next to the front door but then found a double cylinder deadbolt lock securing the front door. The next step was to smash the front door in order to get inside. The family who was at home that had so far managed to sleep through the alarm siren and the ringing of the telephone, was finally startled to a sudden awaking with the sound of their front door crashing apart as firemen forced their way in to begin an attack on the fire.
In the end, only one family member was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, but released shortly afterwards. The fire was confined to just the one room and so while there was some loss to the family’s possessions, the losses were extremely minimal when considering what the outcome could have been had this family not have had the affordable benefit of a monitored alarm system.
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