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Local fire departments expand life-saving program to prevent fire fatalities

Fire departments across Kitsap County are planning to make at least 1,000 local families safer from fire in 2014 with a free smoke alarm installation and home safety assessment program.

With a federal grant and partnerships with service clubs and other community groups, fire departments hope to install more than 3,000 smoke alarms in local houses and apartments during 2014.

Special devices for the hearing-impaired will also be available.

The Kitsap County Fire Chiefs Association, representing all six of the county’s fire departments and the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office, teamed up with the Washington State Association of Fire Marshals to apply to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the fire prevention and safety grant.

Having been awarded the grant, the group has access to funding for smoke alarms, public education outreach, as well as for a grant coordinator position. Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue generously offered centrally-located office space, and Jennifer Yost has been named to the part-time position of grant coordinator.

The goal is to reduce the number of deaths and injuries in the county due to home fires. The focus is on installing smoke alarms in the homes of high-risk families. Children under the age of 5, low income families, and people with disabilities have a much higher death rate in home fires than the general population.

“Our deaf and hard of hearing population is particularly vulnerable in a fire. What is neat about this grant is that it includes funding for specialized smoke alarms for the hearing impaired,” said Yost. “We know that this population has been underserved in the past because neither fire departments nor the individual families have the funding to purchase these more expensive alarms. These alarms alert the resident by vibrating a pillow or mattress, when activated by the home’s standard smoke alarm.”

Studies indicate that a family increases their chance of survival in a home fire by more than 50 percent simply by having a working smoke alarm.

The free smoke alarm installation program includes a brief home safety assessment to identify potential fire hazards, education on how to prevent fires, and assistance in creating a home fire escape plan.

To access the services or to volunteer your community group or service club to join the project, contact Yost at jyost@ckfr.org or call 360-447-3567 or the local fire department.

Across the U.S., nearly 3,000 people lost their lives to fire in 2012, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA says that roughly 65 percent of all fire deaths occur in homes with missing or non-working smoke alarms.

 

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