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Hundreds of smoke detectors donated to local fire departments

Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 6:02 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Smoke alarms are the first line of defense against a fire, but many homes in the Ozarks don’t have them. Hundreds of smoke detectors were handed out to local fire departments Tuesday, making a potentially life-saving difference for their neighbors.

“Smoke alarms, especially in today’s day and age, they’re vital," said Chief Randall Hoskins.

Hoskins said, in the last few years, the Fair Grove Fire Protection District has responded to more house fires than grass fires.

“We do find that people don’t unfortunately have smoke detectors, but when they do, there’s a much higher likelihood that everyone made it out okay," Hoskins said.

He said these donations from the Home Builders Association can make all the difference. Nine local fire departments including Logan-Rogersville, Willard, Ozark and Republic all received about 100 smoke alarms to hand out in their communities for free.

According to the HBA, it’s given out 6,500 smoke alarms to local departments since 2011 through its Home Builders Charitable Donations.

Hoskins said when someone does not have a working smoke detector, it’s often because they don’t realize the importance of them. He said, 30 years ago, a person had about 17 minutes to escape a house fire.

“Today, study after study has shown, due to the lightweight construction, open floor plans and synthetic materials, you have on average three minutes to escape a structure fire," Hoskins said.

That means, seconds matter.

“The bottom line is, working smoke alarms save lives," said Springfield Fire Chief David Pennington.

Pennington said his department has been handing out free smoke detectors every Saturday for three years. It’s an initiative mostly funded through grants and donations.

“The goal of Project Red Zone is to reduce injuries and deaths in residences related to fires, whether that be in a private home or apartment building," Pennington said.

Of the 159 residential fires in Springfield last year, the Springfield Fire Department had installed smoke alarms in 47 of those houses.

“We can document cases now where we have been to homes prior to fires occurring, we have installed alarms, and individuals were alerted and escaped," Pennington said.

Smaller departments would struggle funding that kind of effort, but they still aim to protect every square mile of their communities.

“To be able to provide that, any increase in coverage with people who have smoke detectors in their homes is always a gain," Hoskins said.

If you are in need of a working smoke detector, contact your local fire department to see if they can install one in your home for free.

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