The Carroll County commissioners and Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association have teamed up to have smoke alarms installed in homes where there are none.
Leon Fleming, the association's liaison to the county, asked the commissioners for money to purchase 1,000 smoke alarms "so we could put them on the apparatus and distribute them when people don't have smoke alarms in their houses."
The commissioners allocated $4,000 from the general contingency account to pay for the smoke alarms. The campaign will begin during National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 8-14.
"Ace Hardware of Mount Airy offered them 1,000 smoke alarms for $3.80 apiece, which is very good," said Steve Powell, the commissioners' chief of staff. "It's a nice partnership with a local business that understands the importance of preserving lives in Carroll County."
Doug Alexander, the association's chairman of fire prevention, life safety, marketing and public information committee, said Greg Phelps, Ace Hardware store owner, checked with smoke alarm manufacturers to determine the bulk price. He also donated a box of six smoke alarms to the campaign.
"I shopped around the county, and this was the best deal available," Alexander said.
Alexander hopes to have the smoke alarms by next week to distribute to the county's 14 fire companies.
The firefighters group is going on the offensive to make sure as many homes as possible have a working smoke alarm after a fire in Eldersburg killed two men in July, and another fire in Woodbine killed a man in August. Neither home appeared to have a working smoke alarm, fire officials said.
A canvas of the neighborhoods where the fires occurred revealed that of the homes with smoke alarms, half of them didn't work because of age or a dead battery.
Fire officials stress that smoke alarms save lives and property.
Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company recently had a garage fire, Alexander said. A smoke alarm alerted the residents, who extinguished the fire while waiting for firefighters to arrive.
Winfield Community Volunteer Fire Department responded to a house fire early last month where the homeowner was alerted by a smoke alarm that a lamp was on fire in his basement. He, too, extinguished the fire before firefighters arrived.
Alexander wants each fire department to keep several smoke alarms on every fire engine, ladder truck and rescue squad that responds to an incident. If the firefighters find a home with no smoke alarm, or it is damaged, they can give the homeowner a new smoke alarm, particularly those who cannot afford it or senior citizens who may be in need.
"Generally, as our fire units go to calls at residences, we have asked them to check the smoke alarms before they leave," Alexander said.
Fire officials are urging homeowners to have a smoke alarm outside bedrooms and on every level of their house. Alarms should be checked monthly and the batteries changed every six months - the fall and spring weekends when clocks are reset for the time change is recommended.
"People that have non-working electric smoke alarms in their homes must replace them with electric smoke alarms which are available at most hardware, home supply, or general merchandise stores," Alexander said.
"People that have no smoke alarm, or a battery type alarm that is 10 years or more old, may qualify for one of these [free] smoke alarms," he said.
Those who can afford them will be encouraged to buy smoke alarms.
"We want these to go where we know they're needed," Alexander said.
The association also will have literature on fire safety and smoke alarms available to residents all of this month. The fire prevention committee will hold a fire prevention event from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 8 at TownMall of Westminster with activities and information.
Alexander also stressed that anyone who cannot afford a smoke alarm, or needs help with checking or installing smoke alarms, can call the local fire department for assistance.
With a limited budget, the association is hoping area businesses or organizations will help with the campaign by donating smoke alarms or cash to buy more.
Anyone wishing to donate can contact Fleming at 410-848-1488, ext. 202.