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Smoke Detectors saving local lives

December 7th, 2018 by WCBC Radio

On average a household in the United States has a one in four chance of having a fire large enough to be reported to an area fire department during the occupant’s lifetime, according to the National Fire Protection Association. More alarming is that a separate study conducted by the NFPA reports three out of every five home fire deaths were in properties without working smoke alarms. “The Allegany and Garrett Counties Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association wants to change that,” said Gary Carpenter, chairman of the “Sound the Alarm” campaign. “(The association) believes that just one life lost is one too many.”


The “Sound the Alarm” campaign was launched on September 30, 2018 and has raised $1,500 to provide working smoke detectors to the community.


“The majority of that money has come from local businesses, some individuals, and area churches,” Carpenter said.


“The Allegany and Garrett Counties Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association’s campaign to raise funds to purchase and install smoke detectors in houses in both counties is a vital cause. We as the Department of Emergency Services have to help raise awareness to prevent deaths from fires where smoke detectors either were non-functioning or not present,” Allegany County Department of Emergency Services Director Dick DeVore said.


The NFPA reports that on average 1,450 fire deaths occur every year in homes with missing or non-functioning smoke detectors.


Carpenter, 71, started as a volunteer firefighter when he was 16-years-old and has seen devasting fires with local lives lost. He believes that if these houses had working smoke detectors, lives could have been saved.


Carpenter played a pivotal role in raising funds to build the Fallen Firefighters Memorial located on Kelly Road in Cumberland.


“I know the citizens of Allegany and Garrett counties are gracious and will donate…we just have to get the word out there about this important cause,” Carpenter said. “As chairman of this most worthy fundraising project, I humbly ask that you consider joining our efforts by making a generous financial gift.”


The associations goal is to raise $10,000. Just a donation of $20 will buy one smoke detector, which could make the difference between life and death for your neighbor, for your friend, or for your loved one.


Fire departments in the United States responded to an estimated average of 358,500 home structure fires per year during 2011-2015, which represents three-quarters of all structure fires, according to the NFPA.


As part of the campaign, if a smoke detector is requested, your local fire department will install the detector for you and may offer other safety suggestions at your residence. For example, faulty outlets or fraying extension cords that could potentially become hazards.


“This is a great campaign for making out communities safer and for citizens to be able to interact with their local fire departments and first responders,” Carpenter said.


DeVore echoed Carpenter’s statement.


“It is the mission of both the association and the Department of Emergency Services to make the communities safer, whether that is fire and EMS response to emergencies, through education, community involvement or projects such as this.”


Citizens interested in donating should make checks payable to AGCVFRA and mailed to Allegany Garrett County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, c/o Barton Hose Company, P.O. Box 252, Barton, Maryland 21521.


Citizens requesting additional information about the “Sound the Alarm” campaign can visit the AGCVFRA Facebook using @AGCVFRA.


Todd Bowman is the public information officer for Allegany County Department of Emergency Services. He can be reached via email at


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