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City firefighters install smoke detectors

“We’re going to knock on every door in the city over the next few years.”

Mark Killian, chief of the Williamsport Bureau of Fire, is a door-to-door “salesman.” But he is not peddling cheap kitchen knives or cure-all panaceas, and what he’s selling is the importance of preparedness and safety — the smoke detectors are free.

Killian and the city fire department are giving away smoke detectors, free of charge, to city residents.

The fire department launched its S.A.F.E. (Smoke Alarms for Everyone) initiative on Saturday with the goal of ensuring the detectors are offered and installed in every home in the city.

A daunting task, to be sure, but Killian said it is an important step toward increasing responsiveness to fire incidents.

“Statistically speaking, smoke alarms are the most important thing to have in your home to allow your family to escape” in the event of a fire, Killian said.

Three out of five home fire deaths are in properties without smoke alarms, and there is a 55 percent reduction of injury or death from a fire-related incident for residents with working smoke detectors.

So, Killian and his crew of fire-safety marketers are gradually knocking door-to-door and checking in with Williamsport residents.

They are offering information pamphlets detailing the importance of smoke alarms, and are offering to install free detectors on every floor of each residence to make sure the people of Williamsport have access to devices that could ultimately save lives.

“These alarms don’t do any good sitting in boxes at the fire station. We need to get them into homes,” Killian said.

The Montoursville Lowe’s donated more than a thousand smoke detectors to the bureau of fire to assist in this task.

Angela Porter, the store’s assistant general manager, said each Lowe’s location is encouraged to select a service to support every year.

“It gives them an opportunity to protect their family. What’s more important than our families?” Porter said.

Killian and members of the city fire department started handing them out on Saturday. The group gathered outside Bowman field, and split into four teams: One walked north on Beever, another went west on Memorial Avenue, another took to Hammond Place and another handled Andrews and Taylor Place.

Killian reminded the public that smoke detectors have a set battery life. Some older models may need changed every five years, while the newer detectors that the fire department is handing out have 10-year lithium-Ion batteries.

Smoke detectors will begin emitting beeps when they need replaced–and Killian told residences not to wait or neglect changing them.

“Just because you have one doesn’t mean it works,” Killian said.

In addition to handing out smoke detectors, the fire department is also passing out informational pamphlets explaining strategic placement of smoke detectors in homes.

Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, outside sleeping areas and on every level in a house — including the basement, according to the bureau of fire. Residents should test smoke alarms once a month.

Finally, Killian also said specialized alarms can use “bed-shakers” and strobe lights to alert individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

When a resident is not present, members of the fire department will leave a door tag on the handle of their residence with fire safety tips and an invitation to schedule an appointment for the fire department to come back.

While the fire department will eventually visit every home, residents can set up appointments to have the department come install detectors in their homes by calling the bureau’s headquarters at 570-327-1536.

The department aims to fully cover the area between Lycoming Creek Road and Campbell Street, between Rural Avenue and Fourth Street, by the end of summer 2021.

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