Phil Dawson doesn’t want anyone hurt for lack of smoke detectors. That’s why the Lincoln Fire Department is distributing 180 free detectors thanks to a town firefighter’s research.
As of Friday, firefighters gave 19 detectors to Chester and Lincoln residents, said Ken Lovdahl, firefighter and emergency medical technician.
“We hope that people who can afford to get them on their own have done so, but if they cannot afford it, we want them to come to us,” Dawson, Lincoln’s fire chief, said Friday. “There’s really no criteria to our passing them out except that we hope to give them to families in need.”
The Home Safety Council sent the detectors to Lincoln at no cost after Lovdahl requested them. Located in Washington, D.C., HSC describes itself as the only national nonprofit organization solely dedicated to preventing home-related injuries that result in nearly 20,000 deaths and 21 million medical visits on average each year, according to its Web site, homesafetycouncil.org.
“We pass out one to three detectors per home. We try to make sure that every home has at least one,” Lovdahl said.
East Millinocket’s Fire Department used the same or a similar program, Lincoln firefighter David Slomienski said. The Mattawamkeag Volunteer Fire Department is seeking detectors, while Lee’s volunteer firefighters distributed several, he said.
East Millinocket issued 50 to 60 smoke detectors to all third- and fourth-graders at Opal Myrick Elementary School last month, said East Millinocket Lt. David Madore, that department’s fire prevention officer.
Madore could not immediately recall whether the detectors came from HSC.
All firefighters share Dawson’s fear, especially now. Most structure fires occur in winter, often because of failures of fireplaces and other secondary home heating devices. That’s why East Millinocket firefighters go door-to-door annually in October or November checking whether detectors are installed or working, frequently giving away detectors or batteries for them, Madore said.
Firefighters feared that this winter would be especially difficult. High home heating oil prices were expected to sharply increase use of secondary home heaters, but that hasn’t happened yet, Dawson said.
Smoke detectors are residents’ first and possibly only line of defense against fires and the devastation they cause, he said.
Any Chester or Lincoln residents who want a smoke detector are asked to call 794-8455. Firefighters will help install detectors at residents’ request. Residents who want fire prevention advice and equipment should call their local departments.