Milwaukee Survive Alive House

Fire Education Center

Ask Lieutenant Gladney a question

If you have a question you would like to ask Lieutenant Gladney click the CONTACT button or email him at

Some of the questions and answers will be posted below, others with be answered directly.


Q: I need a smoke detector for my home, but we can not afford one, what should we do? Deanna

A: Call the smoke detector hotline at 414-286-8980. They can provide you with a smoke detector at no charge if you need one.


Q: What do I do if I see someone setting a house on fire? What should I do if I hear someone talking about setting someones house on fire? Takayla  

A: If you see someone starting a fire, call 911 immediately! If you hear someone talking about starting a fire tell a parent or another trusted adult, like a teacher or family friend. You need to tell someone as soon as possible so that they can help you make sure no one gets hurt.


Q: Do you have to leave a pet behind in a fire? Do fire departments have oxygen masks for pets? Emily  

A: Most cats and dogs will find their own way out of a fire. Also,  remember they are already low to the ground. You should NOT stay in or go back into a burning building for a pet. Stay as low as possible and find a way out as quickly as you can. Firefighters will rescue animals and are equiped with masks for them if needed.

Q: What are we supposed to do if smoke reaches the part where we are supposed to crawl? Qayve 



A: Stay as low as possible and find a way out as quickly as you can. The smoke near the floor is not as hot as the smoke closer to the ceiling. Stay low, get out, and yell for help. 

 Q: Why do we need to check our smoke detectors every month? Lamiya

A: We check our smoke detectors monthly to make sure they are still working properly. 

Q: Why do you need those clothes? Mikalayah 

A: All the clothes that fire fighters wear are designed to protect them from the heat from a fire. The clothes are also designed to be water repellent to keep them from getting too wet.    

Q: How do you get cats and other animals and elderly out of a burning house safely and quickly? Tabitha

A: Most cats and dogs will find their own way out of a burning building through any open door or window.  If you have elderly persons living with you, how they will get to safety needs to be a part of your fire escape plan. If there are people or pets trapped inside the house, notify the fire department so they can rescue them. The best thing you can do is get out, stay out, call 911, and stay at your meeting place.  

Q: Can paint set a fire?  Alina

A: Paint can not start a fire by itself.

Q: If you didn't have a smoke detector or an escape plan,  and there was a fire while you were sleeping, what should you do?  Isabella

A: Stay low and yell for help. Check your doors and windows to see if there is a way for you to escape. Please take time to make an escape plan for your family and get a smoke detector.

Q: When can I go to Survive Alive again?  Ariyanna

A: MPS school students come to Survive Alive in 2nd and 5th grade.

Q: How do you get to the games? Alexis and Madison

A: Games can be found under the Students tab, activities section. You will need to click the link for the game website you would like.

The game fire fighter Chris showed you can be found here: at the Survive Alive Indianapolis website.

Q: If my had a fire on my shoulder and I stop, dropped and rolled to get the fire out on my shoulder; should my mom call 911 and tell them that my arm is broke? Jakiya

A: She should call 911 and tell them there is a fire at your house and someone is injured.

Q: Did you invent the smoke detector?  Rayna

A: No, I did not. The first automatic electric fire alarm was invented in 1890 by Francis Robbins Upton (U.S. patent no. 436,961). Upton was an associate of Thomas Edison, but there is no evidence that Edison contributed to this project.

       In the late 1930s the Swiss physicist Walter Jaeger tried to invent a sensor for poison gas. It was 30 years, however, before progress in nuclear chemistry and solid-state electronics made a cheap sensor possible. While home smoke detectors were available during most of the 1960s, the price of these devices was rather high. Before that, alarms were so expensive that only major businesses and theaters could afford them.

       The first truly affordable home smoke detector was invented by Duane D. Pearsall in 1965, featuring an individual battery powered unit that could be easily installed and replaced. The first commercial smoke detectors came to market in 1969. Today they are installed in 93% of U.S. homes. However it is estimated that any given time over 30% of these alarms do not work, as users remove the batteries, or forget to replace them.

Q: How do you know if there is a fire if no one tells you? Jasmine    

A: We know there is a fire if no one is telling us by having a working smoke detector in our house and always making sure that it is tested monthly and that the battery is changed once a year.  

Q: Do you have to have training to be a firefighter? Isabella    

A: Yes, to be a firefighter we go the Milwaukee Fire Department Training Academy where we attend classes to learn how to be firefighters and emergency medical technicians.  This training takes 16 weeks to complete. We have continued training and school every few weeks.

Q: How many kids have you taught? Isabella    

A:  The Survive Alive House has taught over 350,000 children about fire safety since we opened in 1992.  About 15,500 students visit every school year. 

Q: What would you do if you did not have anything for safety and your house was on fire when you were sleeping?  Isabella    

A:  You should talk to your parents right away about getting the proper safety items for your home. Most important is to have a working smoke detector.  You can get one for free if you call the smoke detector hotline at 286-8980.

If you were to have a fire before getting a smoke detector we would want you to go through all the steps you learned when you were here.  Stay low, check the doors with the back of your hand, peek out the door, go out the safe door to your meeting place if it safe to do so, and to call for help from your window if you are trapped.

Review the steps you learned here:  besafeplan.htm


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Effective February 1, 2011, ALL one and two family buildings including owner occupied buildings will be required to have CO detectors in accordance with Wisconsin's new Carbon Monoxide Detector Law.

Three families and larger buildings in Wisconsin that have attached garages or “fuel burning devices” –gas heat, oil heat, gas dryers, gas stoves etc. had a similar law become effective last April.  

CO detectors must be within 75 feet of all fuel burning device and within 15′ of each bedroom. One is required in the basement if there is a “fuel burning device” down there. They are also required in common hallways spaced no more than 75′.

Battery and plug in units are okay. Mount them on the ceiling or wall.

Please see the links tab   above for more information, CO law links.