Sterling Heights family grateful for fire department’s life-saving visit

Fire department installs smoke alarms inside home 1 year before house catches fire

Sterling Heights family grateful for fire department's life-saving visit

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – After a recent house fire, one Macomb County family is feeling extremely grateful for a visit from their fire department one year before.

A fire recently broke out at the Wagenbach’s home in Sterling Heights. Daughter Layla Wagenbach was cooking at home when she heard the fire alarm go off -- but the smoke wasn’t coming from the oven.

The fire had started in her father’s bedroom. Layla’s dad, Chuck Wagenbach, is a smoker, and ashes in a garbage can reportedly caused the fire.

Layla Wagenbach opened the door to the bedroom, and the family’s two dogs were able to run out. She also ran out and called 911.

With everyone safe from the fire, that’s when reality -- and irony -- set in.

Almost one year ago to the day, the Sterling Heights Fire Department was at this same home for a carbon monoxide issue. Upon arriving, firefighters noticed the family did not have any working smoke alarms inside the house -- so they installed three, free of charge.

Chuck Wagenbach says the firefighters and paramedics from Sterling Heights Station 4 saved the lives of his family.

The issue is more common than you might think: It is estimated that about 5 million homes in the U.S. don’t have a working smoke alarm -- which is problematic, since Sterling Heights Fire Marshall Shawn Allen says that once a house catches fire, those inside have only three minutes to exit safely.

Watch the full report in the video player above.

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About the Author:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.