Published: Sep 25, 2012 06:00 PM
Modified: Sep 24, 2012 01:37 PM
HOLLY SPRINGS - The Holly Springs Fire Department is taking on a town-wide effort to check and replace smoke detectors.
Firefighters will kick off the program by canvassing downtown neighborhoods within a half-mile of Town Hall beginning Oct. 1, bearing information and equipment.
“We’re going ... door to door,” said Fire Chief LeRoy Smith, who has been chief since June. “It’s going to take a lot of effort.”
The firefighters, who will be paid for the time, will knock on doors and ask to check smoke detectors. They’ll replace dead batteries,and will provide up to one detector per floor for residences with broken or missing detectors. The program won’t include carbon monoxide detectors.
Holly Springs’ Proactive Residential Information Distribution Effort is first focusing on the older neighborhoods near the town’s core, which were built under less-strict fire and construction codes. However, Smith wants the department to check every house in the town of about 25,000 within five years.
For the first phase of the campaign, Smith expects his crews to canvass on Saturday mornings and on weeknights before 7:30 p.m. until mid-December.
The department is tackling a lethal problem: Only 4 percent of U.S. homes lack a smoke detector, but fires in those homes accounted for 38 percent of residential fire deaths for a five-year period, according to research complied by the National Fire Protection Agency.
A further 25 percent of the deaths happened in fires that didn’t trip smoke alarms.
The fire department will pay for fire-detector batteries from its own budget, while the smoke detectors will come from corporate donations via Wake County. Smoke alarms typically run between $3 and $30; department staff have 150 detectors on hand and expect they’ll need twice that over the next year.
Smith also plans to open a hotline number, 919-577-7233, that residents can call to request a detector check. The town also will advertise the program on the Internet. Residents who allow firefighters into their homes face no risk of fines for missing or broken detectors, said fire department engineer Joe Harasti.
“We’re there to help them make sure,” Harasti said, “that their systems, if they have them, are working – not as ... an official fire inspection.”