Residents receive free smoke detectors

City firefighters head to the streets starting Saturday in a continuing effort to equip residents with working smoke detectors.

Now in its third year, the fire prevention program has seen about 1,200 residents receive free smoke detectors while crews visited some 6,000 residences, said Pat Alduenda, a fire investigator.

If a person can't afford a smoke alarm, the devices are furnished free, thanks in part to donations to the program. Free batteries also are provided to residents, if needed.

Most people have smoke detectors, he said, but traditionally about 50 percent of the households have devices that don't work.

The battery has been disconnected in some instances because the detector is beeping (which means only that the battery needs to be changed) and others just contain a failed battery.

"Detectors don't save lives," said Alduenda, "but working detectors do."

If a resident needs assistance installing the devices, the city fire department also will help.

State law mandates that landlords furnish a working detector placed in an appropriate location at the time they turn over keys to a tenant, he said.

"Almost 15 people are going to die tonight in the U.S. in their homes," said Alduenda. "Most would have survived with a working detector. … It's just inexcusable not to have a detector."

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