Grant Supplies Smoke Alarms to High-Risk Areas
HELENA – A public safety initiative aimed at helping elderly and low-income families avert fire-related tragedy has netted $67,000 for nine Montana communities to supply eligible residents with smoke alarms.
The funding comes from a $180,000 federal grant that the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services received for its Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention section.
Sheryl Burright, Fire Prevention and Education Coordinator for the Fire Prevention and Investigation Bureau, will oversee the smoke alarm project, which focuses on local firefighters and community groups identifying high-risk residents in need of new smoke alarms. For example, older homes that have been renovated into multi-dwelling apartments, or homes occupied by the elderly and those receiving public assistance, can receive free new smoke alarms if their residence has no alarm, has a nonfunctioning alarm, or has an alarm that is 10 years old or older.
Communities that received $11,000 grants in mid July include Helena Fire Department, Bozeman Fire Department, Kalispell Regional Medical Center-The Summit, and Great Falls Fire and Rescue.
Those receiving $5,000 grants were Polson Fire Department, Lewistown Fire Department, Richland County Health Department, and the Anaconda Fire Department. In addition, the Babb Volunteer Fire Department received a $3,000 grant.
Funding comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Along with adding smoke alarms, the community groups will also discuss escape routes and other fire safety topics with residents.
Statistics show that in a fire, the most dangerous place is an unprotected home. Chances of surviving a fire increase to 50 percent with one properly functioning smoke alarm.
“This is an excellent opportunity to educate Montanans about the importance of having a correctly installed and maintained smoke alarm in their home,” said Sheryl Burright, state Fire Prevention Education Coordinator. “It is a great start to a proactive, prevention-minded approach to home safety.”
Burright also stated that if residents are not home during the canvassing, a door hanger will be left with information on whom to contact for the free service.