Monitors and installation done for free
NEW ORLEANS — Firefighters at Engine 16 dispensed advice on fire safety along with batteries and smoke detectors as the New Orleans Fire Department kicked of its annual fire safety campaign Tuesday.
Fire Superintendent Charles Parent donned fuzzy pink Energizer Bunny ears to amuse visiting children. While the image was humorous, the underlying message was serious: functioning smoke detectors save lives.
“Most of the fires we go to have smoke detectors,’’ Capt. Edwin Holmes said. “They’re just not operational. The batteries have been taken out, or they’re old.’’
The New Orleans Fire Department is working to change that, starting with a free smoke detector installation drive in July. Firefighters go to people’s homes to install the devices, free of charge, making sure that they are put in correctly, Holmes said.
Every fire unit has smoke detectors and the equipment needed to put them in, such as ladders and drills, he said. And department brass has stressed its companies have the authority to do the work, as requested by residents, without having to go through headquarters.
Since July, when the department did a soft rollout of the program, firefighters have installed 61 new smoke detectors with lithium batteries that have a 10-year life span; that brings the 2012 installation total to 104, triple the number installed in 2011.
The department has $50,000 to buy the monitors, provided through Kiddie Corp., First Alert and the state fire marshal.
On Tuesday, firefighters canvassed the neighborhood where Engine 16 is located on 2000 Martin Luther Kind Blvd. If residents were home, they were given a bag containing a smoke detector, batteries and a flashlight.
If no one answered, firefighters left a door hanger promoting the installation program.
Holmes said it’s preferable to have firefighters install the monitors because they’ll make sure the work is done correctly and the monitors are placed in the optimum locations, Holmes said.
Detectors too close to kitchens and bathrooms can go off frequently because of steam. When that happens, frustrated homeowners might decide to disable the monitors.
The Fire Department will be giving away batteries and smoke detectors donated by Energizer, which is marking the 25th anniversary of the Change Your Clock Change Your Battery program, which ties semiannual battery checks of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to the change to and from Daylight Saving Time. This year, the clocks fall back Nov. 4.