How to stop Chicago's spike in deadly house fires

In a FOX 32 special report: sounding the alarm.

2018 has already seen a dramatic spike in home fire deaths in Chicago, with almost as many deaths so far this year as the last two years combined.

And with winter on the way, the clock is ticking to save lives.

FOX 32’s Sylvia Perez takes you inside a strategy that’s like no other in America.

The statistics are alarming -- a staggering 44 Chicagoans have died in home fires so far this year. That includes 10 children in Little Village in August.

And in West Englewood, a 7-month old baby died in a fire just last month.

So how do you stop a deadly spike in its tracks? You're looking at one big idea - "The Survive Alive House.”

“This is actually a very unique building, one of its kind. There's no other fire department in the United States that has anything like this,” said Walter Schroeder, Deputy District Chief of the Chicago Fire Department.

It's a lifelike house complete with a classroom, all designed to teach fire safety.

“This room simulates what a bedroom would be like in Chicago,” Schroeder said.

And this is where both kids and adults learn the importance of smoke detectors and getting out alive.

“Smoke is coming in, they see the simulated fire,” Schroeder said.

For the hearing impaired, a vibrating mattress shakes in the event of a fire. After it goes off, students are encouraged to crawl out of the room since smoke rises.

“We know smoke detectors save lives. You do not have minutes, you have seconds to get out of your home if you are encountered with a fire,” Schroeder said.

Chief Shroeder says those detectors go for as little as $5-dollars, and all residents have to do is change the batteries twice a year.

And with cold weather coming, the concern is rising.

“People turning on their furnaces, you get into the holiday months, Christmas trees, electrical, using, lighting up our house,” Schroeder said. “Having a working smoke detector and an evacuation plan with your family is what's going to save your life.”