Firefighters in 13 Texas cities will be installing smoke alarms into the homes of low income and elderly residents thanks to this year’s We’re Out to Alarm Texas smoke alarm campaign. The program now in its eighth year has saved three lives and prevented the destruction of several homes across the state.
The Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) has joined with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Travelers Insurance Companies, an Association of Fire and Casualty Companies of Texas (AFACT) and First Alert to donate the smoke alarms to firefighters who install them and then monitor fire runs to these homes.
Fourteen hundred smoke alarms were donated this year to firefighters in Galveston, Farmers Branch, McKinney, Waco, Odessa, Abilene, New Braunfels, Lufkin, Bonham, Rivers End, Longview, El Paso and San Angelo prior to the start of Fire Prevention Week (October 8-14).
The cities were chosen by the State Fire Marshal’s Office because of their high fire fatality count and the willingness of the fire department to install the smoke alarms into the homes of needy citizens. The smoke alarms are installed on a first-come, first-serve basis to homeowners in each city. Firefighters install the smoke alarms and point out possible fire hazards in each home.
State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy said 169 people were killed in fires last year and most of them lost their life inside their home. “Smoke alarms can wake people from a deep sleep or simply remind them that they left something on the stove,” said Connealy. “A smoke alarm can give residents the precious seconds they need to escape a burning house.”
The We’re Out to Alarm Texas smoke detector campaign has resulted in the donation of nearly 9,000 smoke alarms to 23 Texas cities since the program began in 2005. Within one year elderly residents in New Braunfels and Waco were rescued by firefighters after being alerted by donated smoke alarms to fires in their smoke-filled homes.
“Saving just one life has been worth the time and effort in seeing that fire departments across the state have had the opportunity to install smoke alarms into the homes of those less fortunate,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas. “The program has brought fire departments closer to their community and helped educate its residents to the benefits of a functioning smoke alarm.”
In 2008, 150 smoke alarms were donated to a 14 year old Boy Scout in Jefferson, Texas. Buck John wrote to the State Fire Marshal’s Office who contacted ICT with a request for enough smoke alarms to place one into the homes of every Meals on Wheels clients in Marion County. The request was fulfilled and it earned John his Eagle Scout award.