By J.D. Miles

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A cold night means another log on the fire in Tim Rutledge’s Forest Lane apartment.

It would have been a risky decision just two months ago, when the building across from his burned and the smoke detectors inside his one bedroom unit were not even working.

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“I was notified by a few residents a couple of buildings down that the smoke detectors weren’t working.”

Since the fire, Rutledge and other tenants have new alarms, along with battery backups to replace a hard wired system installed when the complex was built.

Rutledge’s complex, Bent Creek Apartments, along with a lot of older apartments and hotels relied solely on AC power to alert people if there’s a fire.

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But it’s not reliable without a battery backup says Joel Lavender with Dallas Fire-Rescue.  “We have storms here in North Texas there may be a fire or accident outside that may knock out electrical service and its so important to have that battery backup because we’re trying to save lives.”

Rental property owners have a January first deadline to upgrade their systems or face fines from the state.
Bent Creek’s landlord has installed new detectors since the fire destroyed 12 units in October and tenants say they are sleeping easier.

“Safety first,” says Rutledge.  “I don’t want to be sleeping in the middle of the night and have the unit catch on fire and not be able to make it out.”

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