The program started seven years ago after a fatal fire.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- A recent house fire in the city underscores the need for smoke alarms and has a fire official reminding residents that the life-saving devices are available free.
Fortunately, a fire earlier this week at an East Third Street home was put out before it spread. Loss to the home was about $1,000, and there were no serious injuries.
But in describing the fire recently, city fire inspector Mike Mahouski noted that the blaze could have been discovered sooner had a smoke alarm been in use at the residence.
It's disappointing to still see homes in the city without the devices, Mahouski noted, especially considering that the Salem firefighters' union has a program to provide the battery-operated devices and install them for nothing.
The only requirement is that the house be in the city. The devices can be installed in homes owned by the resident or in rental units.
Fatal fire: So far, 651 smoke alarms have been installed through the effort, which was started in November 1994 after a fire that killed an 18-month-old child. The home didn't have a smoke detector.
More of the devices would be in place today if more city residents were aware the program exists, Mahouski said.
To get the program under way, firefighters solicited help from area businesspeople who provided about $1,420 in seed money.
It continues to operate, thanks to a steady flow of donations, which can be made to the "Smoke Detector Fund" at the fire station.
Phone number: For more information on giving, or to have a detector installed, call (330) 337-3053.
Smoke alarms make a difference, Mahouski said.
"They're lifesavers," he said. "They're super important. There shouldn't be a home without one."