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Selecting fire-safe bars

February 15, 2004|Kathy Sena

Several factors, including local ordinances and the ages and abilities of the members of the household, will affect the decision to choose a particular type of security bar release mechanism.

In addition to using release-type bars and smoke detectors, David Gregor, a field training officer for the Hawthorne Police Department, advises homeowners to have regular drills.

"Make sure you can open the release mechanism. Make sure your kids and the baby-sitter can too," he said. "Have a meeting place outside and teach your family what to do during a fire."

Security bars for a 4-by-4-foot bedroom window will cost about $100, with a foot release adding $125 to $150 and a hand release $50 to $75, including installation, according to Maria Becerra, owner of Los Alamitos Iron in Gardena.

Licensed contractors generally will refuse to sell and install security bars without a release mechanism, said Becerra, who has lost business from homeowners who didn't want to make the bars fire-safe.

Don't install homemade, welded-on bars or purchase security bars from unlicensed people, advised Randy Roxson, assistant deputy director of the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Fire department officials also stress that it's critical to regularly check release mechanisms. Rust, corrosion and age can sometimes keep them from working properly.

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-- Kathy Sena

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