Fire marshal installs free alarms in homes

Twenty-two volunteers installed 120 new smoke alarms in 75 homes in three hours Saturday as part of the state fire marshal’s Operation Save a Life campaign.

“We couldn’t have done that many in that short of a time without a fantastic bunch of volunteers working as a team,” Bob Wolfe, assistant chief of emergency services with the State Fire Marshal’s office said Monday.

The work, he said, is not done, as more than 20 requests for the devices went unanswered and “there’s more (requests) coming in every day.”

State Fire Marshal Butch Browning, a former fire chief in Gonzales, kicked off the program last month with a goal of installing the life-saving devices in as many homes as possible, Browning said during a kickoff meeting in Gonzales.

“Properly installed and maintained residential smoke alarms are one of the best and least expensive ways to provide an early warning when a fire begins,” Browning said. “Smoke alarms save lives, prevent injuries and minimize property damage by alerting residents to a fire hazard.”

Browning solicited the help of area firefighters, the Sheriff’s Office and nonprofit groups to spread the word and help install the devices.

“Hopefully, we’ve prevented a life from being lost by a fire by installing the smoke alarms,” Mayor Leroy Sullivan said.

Sullivan, members of the City Council and Donaldsonville firefighters joined other volunteers to install the smoke alarms, which were paid for through a $100,000 legislative appropriation, Wolfe said.

The smoke alarms installed have a long battery life and “the batteries don’t have to be changed every six months,” Sullivan said.

“Smoke alarms save lives, and this program provides for the alarms where they are needed,” Sullivan said. “Hopefully, more residents will sign up for the free program.”

Residents don’t have to meet an age or income limit, Sullivan said. Applications are available at the Donaldsonville fire station, 700 Lafourche St.

Ascension is one of 23 parishes taking part in the program, Wolfe said.

Since the program’s inception, 300 smoke alarms have been installed in 250 Ascension Parish homes.

Firefighters across the parish have been accepting applications and installing the devices, Wolfe said.

The Galvez Volunteer fire Department is kicking off its campaign next month, Wolfe said.

“We’re not finished installing these life-saving devices,” Wolfe said, “and with the help of firefighter and other volunteers, we’re going to reach as many houses as possible.”

Wolfe encouraged residents without smoke detectors to stop by or call an area fire department to register for the program.

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