PFD Installs Smoke & CO Alarms for Families at Risk

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

Travis County ESD No. 2 (Pflugerville Fire Dept.) personnel and volunteers recently installed over 80 smoke and carbon monoxide alarms for families at risk.

Nearly 30% of the homes served during the outreach did not have any smoke alarms at all. Of those that did have alarms, only 37% of the alarms worked when tested and weren’t beyond their 10-year life span. Additionally, virtually none of the homes with gas appliances had a working carbon monoxide (CO) alarm.

The outreach in late September 2017 was the largest of its kind in Pflugerville Fire Dept.’s history and the first such event in the past several years. Six teams of Fire Department personnel – both civilian and certified – worked together for several hours with support from Pflugerville COPs (Citizens on Patrol) volunteers visiting homes in neighborhoods at risk. The neighborhoods were identified based on national and local data such as the age of the homes, type of homes (ex: mobile homes), income-level of residents, and other demographics.  The Sept. 23 outreach directly helped nearly 50 children and more than 25 senior citizens, two groups who are considered to be at higher risk of dying in home fires.

The Department would like to do more of this type of “targeted outreach” in the future, according to Allison Strupeck, community outreach coordinator.

“As a Fire Department, we are committed to ensuring everyone in our community is educated on the importance of having enough smoke alarms and keeping them working, as well as carbon monoxide alarms when there are gas appliances in the home,” Strupeck said. “We are also dedicated to doing neighborhood-level outreach on a regular basis. The poor, the elderly, the young, and those who live in older homes are some of the residents we are working to reach more often and more directly.”

The energetic teams came fully loaded with backpacks stuffed with educational materials and plenty of alarms, offering to teach basic fire safety to the residents while also testing their alarms, replacing batteries and installing new alarms as needed. The community response was positive as they spread the word about testing smoke and CO alarms every month, replacing the batteries at least once a year, and replacing all smoke alarms at least every 10 years. They emphasized the importance of planning two ways out of every room in case one way is blocked by fire, and discussing a “safe meeting place” as a family to meet outside if there is ever a fire. During their home visits, the Fire Dept. teams also give tips on preventing common types of house fires such as cooking fires, candle fires, electrical/lighting fires, and smoking-related fires.

The outreach was promoted in the selected neighborhoods the past few weeks through yard signs and door hangers, and it was considered a “soft roll out” of the Department’s new Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm Hotline. The Hotline will be formally launched to the entire community during Fire Prevention Month (October) as a tool for TCESD2 residents to get answers to common questions on smoke and CO alarms; additional assistance may be available for qualifying residents.

Both smoke-only alarms and combination smoke-CO alarms were installed on Saturday. The combinations alarms were donated to the Fire Department through a generous grant from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. A celebration of this grant will be held at the Round Rock Crossing Firehouse Subs the morning of Oct. 19; more information will be provided closer to that date.