With COVID-19 dominating the headlines, it is still a daily occurrence for fires to happen and with more people at home, fire safety can’t wait. Recently, our team has received many questions about how to handle the continued need for smoke alarm installations.
National organizations and their partners, have stopped canvassing efforts in light of the coronavirus risk, and in accordance with state and local quarantines. One fire chief stated he had lost more lives in a recent home fire than they have lost, to date, in this pandemic. He has challenged the fire marshal to figure out how we (as the fire service) can make sure that people have working smoke alarms, in spite of the pandemic.
Every community is different - so unfortunately, one size does not fit all.
We know that working smoke alarms are key to early notification during a home fire. How can the fire service make sure homes have working smoke alarms without canvassing or directly installing? Consider these options, but also resist some shortcuts that might cause liability issues:
- During emergency calls have the duty crew check the smoke alarms in the home. A battery replacement or alarm replacement may be needed. Advertise that smoke alarms are available through the usual media channels.
- If there is a high-risk area, or following an incident, use door hangers to give instructions on what to do if you need a smoke alarm, as well as best practices for testing them – here are some tips from FEMA.
- If someone needs an alarm immediately, consider delivering it to their porch along with instructions on how to install it.
- Set up a pick-up area outside your fire station – similar to what restaurants and grocery stores are currently doing for pickups. With many manufacturers posting videos, it is easier to give residents guidance on how to install the alarms properly. They also have a quick guide for each: First Alert smoke alarms and Kidde smoke alarms.
- Ask the resident if there are family members or a caretaker that can help install the alarms, once they have them.
- Here are just a couple of YOU TUBE videos from manufacturers that you can also use.
As with any safety device, it is important to communicate to residents to follow manufacturer’s instructions. As fire and life safety educators, we need to get creative and figure out safe and effective ways to save lives during this difficult time.
IT’S A BIG WORLD. LET’S PROTECT IT TOGETHER.