The Springfield Fire Department moves into phase 2 of Project RED Zone (Reduce, Educate, Deliver) in Grant Beach this Saturday to distribute free smoke alarms. Teams will canvass the neighborhood; going door-to-door replacing outdated smoke alarms and changing batteries, at no charge.
Phase 1 reached all 2300 homes in the West Central neighborhood, which is at the highest risk for fires and fire deaths, according to data gathered by the city of Springfield.
According to a recent SFD news release, “The goal of SFD’s Community Risk Reduction (CRR) program is to ensure every home in Zone 1 - the area of the city with the highest fire risk - has working smoke alarms.”
Cara Erwin, the Fire and Life Safety educator for the Springfield Fire Department affirmed, “One of our main messages is that in order to be safe, you have to have working smoke alarms in every bedroom and on every level, and it’s really hard for us to just tell people to do that, if they don’t have the ability to afford to go out a buy one.”
Earlier this year, the department received a $15,000 FEMA Fire Prevention and Safety Grant. Along with clubs and business donations, it also uses its own public education fund to finance the project for those who would otherwise be at risk for fires and fire-deaths.
Statistically, working smoke alarms double your chances of surviving a fire. Last year West Central had 55 fires while Grant Beach reported 44. Springfield also saw five fire deaths in 2016, which is the equivalent of almost 30 fire deaths per one million people. The national average is just over 10 fire deaths per million people.
Erwin says smoke alarms need to be checked monthly and batteries should be replaced yearly. She cautions, “Most people don’t realize that smoke alarms only last ten years, and need to be replaced after that.” This means replacing the entire smoke alarm unit to ensure your alarm is up-to-date and is safer than using an older unit, which may not effectively protect your home.
Asked what the citizen response to Project RED Zone has been, Erwin replied, “Tremendous.”
The American Red Cross donated 300 smoke alarms to the project, and she adds that departmental collaboration between the community and fire department has been instrumental.
Grant Beach residents should be aware firefighters will be in their area each Saturday to distribute smoke alarms. Cara Erwin explains, “The biggest thing is just, if we can get people to know we are coming, and open up their doors for us.”
To receive a free smoke alarm, call 417-874-2300.