A grant from the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company "Heritage" program was awarded to Las Vegas Fire & Rescue for a new smoke alarm campaign. The grant made it possible to purchase 2,100 smoke alarms.
Cragin & Pike Insurance of Las Vegas contacted the fire department last summer about the Fireman's Fund program. Although the department could have used the funds to purchase new equipment for the department, it was decided that the funds would better serve the community if used to purchase smoke alarms to be distributed to families who could not afford one. The intent of the program is to provide at least one working smoke alarm in each home that needs one, to as many homes as possible.
In a ceremony on February 6th, representatives from Cragin & Pike and Fireman's Fund Insurance presented Las Vegas Fire Chief David L. Washington with a check in the amount of $10,565. The money was used to purchase the 2,100 smoke alarms from BRK Electronics/First Alert. The presentation was made in front of Las Vegas Fire Station 4 on the city's Eastside.
In December, a house fire just two blocks from Station 4 resulted in a fire fatality. The fire was small in nature, but it produced enough smoke to kill one of the occupants in the house. The other occupant just barely escaped. There was no smoke alarm in the house.
A survey of the area around Fire Station 4 showed that many of the homes in the area are between 40 to 60 years old and many do not have smoke alarms.
The smoke alarm project is coordinated by the Office of Public Information and Education for Las Vegas Fire & Rescue. Special plastic bags were made with graphics that promote the importance of smoke alarms in the home. Inside the bag is a variety of fire safety material, including a special 13-page fire safety information booklet that was designed especially for Las Vegas and one First Alert smoke alarm. There is also a special instruction sheet advising that the instructions on the smoke alarm package should be followed in how to mount the smoke alarm. It also specifies that if the occupant is disabled or unable to mount the smoke alarm, they can call the Office of Public Information & Education for assistance in getting the smoke alarm mounted. Two citizen volunteer groups have offered to mount the smoke alarms for free. If no one is home when the firefighters go door to door, they leave the bag hanging on the door knob of the front door.
Immediately after the presentation, firefighters from Fire Station 4 went door to door in the surrounding neighborhood and passed out the smoke alarms. The reception by the citizens was overwhelming. Most admitted they did not have a smoke alarm in the house and were very happy to meet the firefighters.
The program will expand to various other neighborhoods in the city. Not only are firefighters providing a life-saving device, they also have a chance to meet with the people in their neighborhoods face to face. This also gives citizens a chance to ask firefighters questions about fire & life safety issues.
Firefighters hope to have all the smoke alarms distributed in the community within the next few weeks so they can start to protect the citizens as soon as possible.
The program is helping to make Las Vegas a safer place to live, one house at a time.