‘Every home must have working smoke alarms,' Sioux Falls fire marshal reminds after fatal fire

The reminder from fire marshal Dean Lanier came after no working smoke detectors were found in an apartment where a fire took the life of a Sioux Falls man.

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue provides fire and ambulatory services to the Sioux Falls area.
Contributed / City of Sioux Falls

SIOUX FALLS — Fire officials are pleading with residents to make sure their homes have working smoke detectors after a Sioux Falls apartment was found to be missing a working alarm, resulting in one death.

The fire broke out shortly after 3:30 a.m. at a 10-unit apartment building in the 500 block of West Ninth Street, where 15 tenants lived. After finding the fire and sweeping the building, fire crews discovered one victim in a second-floor bedroom, fire marshal Dean Lanier said during the Sioux Falls Police Department’s regular briefing on Thursday, Jan. 26.

Police spokesman Sam Clemens said the investigation is ongoing but there are no indications that is was suspicious.

Though the cause of the fire remains undetermined, Lanier said investigators were able to trace the fire’s origin to the victim’s bed. The cause of the fire remains unknown, as physical and circumstantial evidence was all destroyed in the blaze.

The name of the individual killed in the fire likely won’t be released by the police department, police spokesman Sam Clemens said on Tuesday, as the department typically doesn’t announce fatalities unless there was a suspicious or criminal nature to the death.

Lanier clarified that no evidence exists that led investigators to believe the fire was suspicious in nature, but confirmed that no working smoke detector was in the bedroom where the victim’s body was found, and that a smoke detector could have helped save the victim’s life.


“What we’re asking everyone to do with these incidents is to recognize why smoke alarms are so important to the survival of a fire. There are no other warnings that occupants will get about a fire breaking out,” Lanier said. “Even small amounts of smoke can be dangerous to the community if they're within that home, so we ask you to take some actions to make sure that you have smoke alarms located in the right places, and working.”

Lanier said that Sioux Falls’ fire code mandates working smoke alarms in bedrooms, hallways and any other living spaces within a home or apartment, and should be tested annually, at minimum.

“More times than not, if we find [smoke alarms] taken down, it’s because they've been prone to nuisance alarms going on and off, oftentimes in the middle of the night, which makes it hard to sleep. What we recommend to people is to start off with the first thing that could be wrong, which is the battery,” Lanier said. “Then we ask them to look at the manufacturing date of the smoke alarm and see if it's older than 10 years.”

While those responsibilities typically fall onto the landlord in apartment buildings, Lanier said anyone in need of assistance with their smoke alarms can call the city’s 211 hotline and request help from fire crews.

“Sioux Falls Fire Rescue does provide a service to the community installing smoke alarms,” Lanier said, “and I would tell you that we've had very good outcomes — prior to this incident — with the size and scope of fires as well as the number of fatalities we have.”

However, a shortage of supplies could cause delays to the service.

“If you call in now and ask for smoke alarm service for your home, due to the market and the amount of supplies we have with smoke alarms right now, it's going to take a little while, so we ask for your patience,” Lanier said. “We’ve been trying to get restocked with additional inventory for quite a bit of time. As soon as we can get our hands on additional supplies, we’ll be out to install for all those people who have called in for that service.”

More information on additional services provided by Sioux Falls Fire Rescue can be found on the department’s website.


A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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