HAGERSTOWN -- In a continuing effort to cut down on fires in rental properties, the Hagerstown Fire Department is promoting a new program that attempts to reach tenants through a persuasive channel: their landlords.
Since March, the department has offered free lithium-battery smoke alarms to Hagerstown property owners who agree to draft lease agreements requiring responsible behaviors from their tenants, Fire Prevention Coordinator Mike Weller said.
Those agreements expose tenants to a $500 civil citation if they take down the smoke alarm or render it disabled, and prohibit risky behaviors such as leaving cooking food unattended, smoking inside and using portable heaters, Weller said.
The focus on rental properties is a response to the fact that about 90 percent of residential fires in Hagerstown occur at such properties, Weller said. He attributed that in part to economics and in part to the higher level of responsibility that comes with owning a home.