FAIRFIELD, CT (CBSNewYork) – The Christmas day fire that killed three children and two of their grandparents in Stamford looms over this year’s ‘spring forward’ reminder to change smoke detector batteries.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane On The Story

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It’s a chance for departments from Greenwich to Bridgeport to talk about the importance of new batteries, but it’s also an opportunity to address the safety fundamentals.

“We’ve been getting calls from people asking how to do exit drills in the home,” said Fairfield assistant chief Chris Tracy. “But we’ve also seen, in the aftermath of that fire, some of the same mistakes. People without smoke detectors. People who are putting out embers and the ashes from their fireplace in places that are dangerous or containers that that’ll burn.”

Fireplace ashes are believed to have been what sparked the Stamford blaze.

He says the Christmas tragedy still motivates many of the calls and e-mails they’re getting.

“It starts at home and if you can take the same care at home that you do at work, that we do at school, you’ll get out alive and everything else can be replaced,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane.

The National Fire Protection Association’s website – www.nfpa.org – as well as local and volunteer fire departments, he says, are the best resources.

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The deaths of those three little girls and their grandparents still haunt the Stamford fire department, says chief Antonio Conte.

“We just couldn’t get to them. It made it’s really, really, really tough and then we seen the pictures of the girls after. It was heart wrenching,” he said Friday. “The sight of the house being totally consumed by fire despite all of our firefighting efforts and not being able to save those three beautiful girls and their grandparents will haunt us forever.”

Conte joined FDNY commissioner Sal Cassano at Ladder 5 in Greenwich Village to urge everyone to have a working smoke detector.

“The loss of life could’ve been prevented. The sound that it makes would’ve given an early notification,” he said. “So, the people inside could’ve escaped.”

The city will distribute free batteries this week at 22 locations throughout the five boroughs. CLICK HERE for a list of locations.

Connecticut lawmakers recently proposed a bill that would make smoke detectors mandatory in all dwellings.

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