On anniversary of deadly downtown fire, victim’s family renews focus on smoke detectors’ importance

MADISON, Wis. — Fifteen years after the death of Peter Talen in a fire near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Talen’s family and the Madison Fire Department came together Friday to mark the anniversary and bring renewed attention to the importance of smoke detectors and sprinklers in saving lives.

Talen, 23, was visiting his brother for the weekend when the fire broke out at a downtown home as those inside slept. Only one smoke detector inside the home on North Bedford Street was working at the time of the fire.

Following Talen’s death, the city passed a comprehensive smoke alarm ordinance in his memory.

“It is humbling to know that the ordinance known as the Peter Talen Smoke Alarm Ordinance has, in fact, helped to prevent this kind of tragedy from ever happening again,” Talen’s mother Patty said during an event Friday afternoon at Fire Station 1, just blocks from where the fire happened.

Patty Talen and Madison Fire Marshal Ed Ruckriegel also stressed the importance of home fire sprinklers in saving lives and stopping fires from spreading.