I recently heard a disturbing story from a colleague of mine. The two of us were sharing information with each other on smoke alarm installation programs.
Both of us share the fundamental belief that the best practice to help keep homeowners safe would be for fire departments to install smoke alarms, not simply hand them to a homeowner. I was surprised to learn from her that in some cases, homeowners that were simply given the smoke alarms (without the installation component) took the smoke alarms to pawn shops, were they could get up to $2 for each alarm. That one was a new one to me and I was saddened to hear that such a thing actually happened.
She shared another story (one similar to other stories that I have heard over the years) in which a fire department had given a smoke alarm away during a pizza delivery. The house later caught fire, three children perished, and the smoke alarm was found in a drawer. Really makes you think, doesn't it?
According to the National Fire Protection Association, a smoke alarm installation program can make a measurable difference in reducing death and injury from a fire. More than half of home fire deaths in America occur in the five percent of homes with no smoke alarms. And it is not be enough to simply provide residents of your community with free smoke alarms. Smoke alarm installation programs, in which firefighters and volunteers install alarms, are far more effective than smoke alarm give-away projects, as the proper placement and quantity of alarms in the latter cannot be ensured.
NFPA has a free smoke alarm installation guide that they consider to be a comprehensive resource for fire safety advocates – firefighters, safety educators, business leaders and representatives of older adult or health groups. In this guide, you will find the information that you need to get started, from tips on how to select and train volunteers, to pointers on soliciting donations and publicizing your program.
On the NFPA website, you can download a PowerPoint presentation (right-click and save to desktop) to help train volunteers about your alarm installation project.
Do you have a story to share about your smoke alarm installation project? We would love to hear from you!
Stay safe everyone.