FARMINGTON — Farmington Fire and Rescue is starting a new smoke alarm safety program for residents.

As a complimentary service, members of the department will evaluate the condition of present smoke alarms in homes and help homeowners install new smoke alarms where needed, Capt. Tim “TD” Hardy said.

Last year, members helped the Red Cross go door to door checking and installing alarms. People were receptive to the program and about 80 smoke alarms were installed, he said.

After Hardy’s grandmother, Frances Hardy, died last year, some funds were donated to the department’s Benevolence Fund in her memory, he said. The department is choosing to spend those funds to continue this program because early detection of fires can save lives and property, Hardy said.  

Materials used now in construction and furnishing homes burn a lot faster. Proper use of smoke alarms can help provide more time for people to get out of a structure.

Unfortunately, members of the department often find homes either without smoke detectors or with dead batteries in detectors, he said.

Firefighters are being trained this week to inspect homes.

“It is not to be punitive — no lectures,” he said. “We just want to try to help and do what we can to promote safety.”

Using a basic inspection form, firefighters will check smoke alarms to ensure they are working properly and placed in a good location. They will test the alarm batteries and help residents get replacements, he said.  

The department has a limited supply of smoke alarms they can give to homeowners, he said.

They will “install a smoke alarm at no charge for any elderly, (disabled) or otherwise impaired resident,” he said.

The detectors have a 10-year battery life. The unit is thrown out at the end of the 10th year, he said.

The department wants to review safety tips with residents and help educate them on the benefits of having properly installed smoke detectors in their homes. Those tips include monthly testing of detectors, changing batteries every year, creating a safety plan to help get a family out of the house and practicing fire drills twice a year, he said.

It is recommended that smoke alarms be placed in the home’s living area and each bedroom, he said.

People who rent and have questions about fire protection or either a lack of smoke alarms or working alarms in their rental unit can also contact the Fire Department. The department is willing to help ensure the building owner installs alarms to conform to the Maine State Law and Life Safety Codes, he said.

The new service is available to anyone, he said.  The department wants to use the “resources available to the public to help keep their homes safe,” he said.

Anyone interested in having Farmington Fire and Rescue check their smoke alarms may call the fire station at 778-3235.

Times for checks can be set up days throughout the week with the help of per diem staff, he said.

The department hopes to find more funding through grants to continue the program.

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