Free smoke detectors for UH residents

Each year, nearly 3,000 people in the United States die in home fires. Over half of these deaths occurred in homes with no, or nonworking, smoke alarms. These are the grim statistics from the National Fire Protection Association.

Do you have a smoke detector in your home? Is it in good working condition?

This year’s Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 3-9, aims to educate people about "Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With." Smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a fire in half, and as a resident of University Heights, you can get them for free.

For the past 25 years, University Heights has had an ongoing program to give and install free smoke detectors to any UH resident who requests one, while supplies last.

Typically, most houses need about six smoke detectors, one for each level, including the basement, and one in each bedroom. How many do you have?

A sign posted in front of the University Heights City Hall in October, reminds people to set their clocks back to standard time and, more importantly, to change the batteries in their smoke detectors. When was the last time you changed the batteries in your smoke detectors?

According to Executive Captain Steve G. Ineman, a 28-year veteran of the UH Fire Department, the age of your smoke detectors matters. While the battery component may work for as long as 20 years with a new battery annually, the smoke sensor in the unit may not.

Ineman said the smoke sensor in the unit is different and has a shorter shelf life. "Just because your battery works, doesn’t mean the sensor for the smoke is still calibrated to get you out in time." Smoke detectors typically have a shelf life of five years. How old are your smoke detectors?

Last year, when University Heights had its first house fire fatalities in over 30 years, Captain Ineman applied for, and won, a grant to purchase state-of the-art smoke detectors for UH residents.

"We are taking a proactive approach to these horrific incidences," Ineman wrote in the grant application.

With nearly $82,000 in grant money, the UH Fire Department purchased 3,883 First Alert combination ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors. Each unit is equipped with a 10-year lithium battery, eliminating the annual battery changing ritual. The UH Fire Department will install a smoke detector and provide a free fire home safety inspection. But you have to call with your request. Contact the fire department at 216-321-1939. Today! Right now!

Anita Kazarian is a marketing professional, a 29-year resident of University Heights, and a frequent contributor to the Heights Observer.

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Volume 3, Issue 10, Posted 7:05 AM, 09.20.2010