The Shepherdstown Fire Department received a donation of smoke detectors last year and has been working to give those out to the community. The company members will continue this spring to offer free smoke detectors to any home in Shepherdstown that may need one.
Chief Ross Morgan indicated that the supply of smoke detectors is limited, so the effort will be made first to secure each home within the town limits before moving outward.
The proposed schedule for distribution of the detectors is the beginning of March; however, the times are not set in a particular frame as the members who will visit each home work on a volunteer basis and work around their day to day jobs. While visiting homeowners in a door-to-door fashion, the firefighters will install a device if one is not currently present. They will also check batteries in smoke detectors already in the home.
According to information from the National Fire Protection Association, approximately two thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in a home with no smoke detector or one that was not working properly. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast and occupants need those smoke alarms to give a warning to allow escape.
The association offers a variety of tips including installing smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home including the basement. They also suggest interconnecting those alarms throughout the home so that if one goes off, they all go off. While this level of security is not always feasible, every home should have at least one detector on each floor.
The Association also stresses that alarms should be tested monthly by pushing the test button. Batteries should be replaced at least once a year. If the detector "chirps" that is an indication that the batteries need to be replaced immediately.
There are different types of alarms. One is an ionization smoke alarm which is generally more responsive to flaming fires and another is a photoelectric smoke alarm which is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, both types of alarms are ideal. Because smoke rises, alarms should be placed either on the ceiling or at the top of the wall. They should be installed according to manufacturer's instructions.
Smoke alarms are available with a recordable voice announcement that may be helpful in waking children through the use of a familiar voice. Alarms are also available for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. These devices use strobe lights. Vibration devices can also be added to these alarms.
Town residents are encouraged to work with the firefighters who visit their homes and take advantage of the donation of the detectors. For more information, calls can be made to the Shepherdstown Fire Department.