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Madison Fire Department Joins Smoke-Free Housing Initiative

Chief Says Fires From Cigarettes Are Among The Most Dangerous

Shamane Mills/WPR

The Madison Fire Department is lending its support to a statewide effort that encourages apartment owners to ban smoking.

Two other departments — Milwaukee’s and Green Bay’s — participate in the smoke-free housing initiative called Clear Gains, which also has support from insurance companies, apartment associations and health groups.

Residents of smoke-free housing would still be allowed to smoke outside, according to Deborah Grayson, the Clear Gains coordinator for the American Lung Association.

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“Smokers can still live in these buildings,” she said. “We’re not saying that smokers have to be banned from these buildings. We’re just saying that smokers have to follow the lease.”

Madison Fire Chief Steven Davis said fires caused by cigarettes are frequently more dangerous than other fires. Indeed, smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States.

In Madison, there were five deaths from smoking-related fires between 2005 and 2011. Over that same period, the department estimates there was nearly $5 million in property damage, most of it in multi-dwelling units.

Grayson said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is considering having all public housing be smoke-free. Moreover, she said many local housing authorities already do this, Boston being one example.

Clear Gains also helps renters find properties that are smokefree.

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