The Tulsa Fire Department is sharing a local woman’s story after a smoke detector saved her life during a fire she never even saw.
Tanya Smith did not know the source of the alarm that woke her until she saw smoke in the kitchen at her home in northwest Tulsa.
It was near midnight Jan. 5. With the smoke detector chirping, Smith said her first thought was of someone breaking in.
She walked through the house, trying to figure out what was going on. When she turned on the lights in the kitchen, she saw the smoke.
“I tried to dial 911 on my cellphone — four times I dialed 922. … I was shaking so badly I could not dial 911,” Smith said Monday.
She later learned that some wires in her central heating system had caught fire. At the time, though, she knew only that her home was filling with smoke.
Smith used her home security system to reach a private dispatcher, who contacted the Tulsa Fire Department. All Smith was able to do was say to send the Fire Department before evacuating her home.
Smith lives in a tight-knit neighborhood. All the homes are built close together, some abutting each other. Smith credited the smoke detector, her alarm system and firefighters with saving her life and her home and with protecting her neighbors.
“When they came in and they opened my screen door and all the smoke came billowing out,” Smith said, “I ran the other way; they ran toward the fire. That image keeps replaying in my head, and I’m so grateful that they are built for that life.”
Dayna Baker, the ADT Security dispatcher who took Smith’s call, said Monday that she could tell immediately that the call was different from others. It was not an alarm malfunction. It was not burned food in the kitchen. Baker said she could hear just how serious the call was in Smith’s voice.
ADT officials gave Baker and four other employees the company’s Life Saver Award, the company’s highest honor, at Smith’s home on Monday.
“It’s awesome; it really is, … when you get the chance to see exactly who you impact,” Baker said. “You don’t think about that on a daily basis.”
After ADT officials heard Smith’s story, the company donated $5,000 to the Tulsa Fire Department. Department spokesman Andy Little said the donation would be used to buy smoke detectors that firefighters can install in Tulsa homes.
“It’s not every day that we get to come to an event like this — we get to see where our work, and the work of an alerting system, has saved a life,” Little said. “That’s encouraging to us. It’s good for our souls.”