This just in from the consumer electronics trade site, CEPro: The number of fatal fires in single- and two-family homes where smoke detectors were present is unacceptably high. While the professionals continue to argue about the exact statistics, the lesson for homeowners is twofold: Keep your smoke detectors in working order and make sure you have a planned escape route. The disturbing news is that while 96 percent of American homes have smoke alarms, alarms alone cannot save lives or prevent fires. Of the homes that had smoke alarms, according to the USFA Report, alarms operated in only 34 percent of the fatal fires and 12 percent of the single- and two-family residential fires. Many lives were lost while trying to escape. The report once again points to the need for safe secondary exits and well-maintained smoke alarms that are clean, with working batteries. Best of all, the professionals insist, is to hard-wire the alarms and install a residential sprinkler system.