They were able to exit the house with firefighters on the way thanks to a call to Miami County 911 from the ADT dispatcher monitoring that night from her job site in Florida. Piqua firefighters were dispatched and arrived a short time later.
The dispatcher, Tenoria Ellis, flew to Ohio to meet the Culvers as they talked about their experiences with fire and ADT officials outside their damaged home. She embraced the Culvers, who were in tears as they thanked her for her efforts including presenting her with a box of locally made Winan’s candy.
When the phone rang, Karen Culver, who has family in California, said she was “pretty annoyed,” but as the details of what was going on unfolded that emotion quickly changed. “Without the phone call, we would not have awakened,” she said.
ADT officials recognized Ellis and a technician who had updated the Culvers’ ADT system a couple of days before the fire with company life saving awards. The couple had been thinking about canceling the alarm system but decided to keep it with the smoke alarms after talking with the technician.
“Two days later, that decision saved our house, and it saved our lives. I think that is probably one of the most incredible parts of the story,” Karen Culver said. “We are so grateful to ADT, to the Piqua Fire Department.”
Mike Culver was taken to Upper Valley Medical Center, Troy, for treatment of smoke inhalation following the fire.
ADT also presented the Piqua Fire Department with a $5,000 check as part of the celebration.
Lee Adams, assistant Piqua fire chief, said the celebration offered an opportunity to issue fire safety reminders including the importance of having smoke detectors in bedrooms and closing bedroom doors while sleeping.
Working smoke alarms in a home “make all the difference in the world,” Adams said. The next step is to ensure smoke alarms are installed according to code and both inside and outside bedrooms, among other locations, Adams said.
Having a door closed, like the Culvers did, also is recommended, he said. This gives those who are asleep more time then to wake up and get their wits about them, Adams said.