KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Sunday is the start of daylight saving time. It's time to spring forward an hour and time to check and change your smoke alarm batteries.

Firefighters cannot stress enough that smoke detectors are their number one tool to save and protect lives. Smoke alarms are the first indicator something is wrong.

Since 1970, when we first started to put smoke detectors in homes, they ve cut fire deaths in half, said Kirkland Firefighter Battalion Chief Mike Jeffery.

Jeffery credits a smoke alarm for saving lives and homes during a July 2012 fire in Kirkland s North Rose Hill neighborhood. Flames erupted in a garage at a on home on 124th Avenue Northeast. A neighbor heard the detector blare, woke up the tenants to evacuate and called 911.

Firefighters recommend placing smoke alarms on every floor and near bedrooms. Jeffery said it's critical to check and change batteries once a year

It s about 95 percent or better that have smoke detectors in homes, but up to 20 percent are not working properly. They don t have batteries They ve lost their power from whether it s hard-wired. So if it s 20 percent, that s not a good statistic. We could do better, said Jeffery.

If you can t remember to change batteries, consider buying a newer smoke detector with a 10-year lithium battery.

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