Cranston is the first city to give residents combination smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detectors for their homes free of charge.
Through a $20,000 American Fire Grant from FEMA, which Lieutenant John Ireland applied for this year, the Cranston Fire Department was able to get 500 combination alarms available to residents who don’t already have them.
The initiative is the first time combination alarms are being given out, but the fire department has being doing this for years through a partnership with the American Red Cross. The Red Cross, through their ‘sound the alarm’ program, will install 100,000 free smoke alarms across 100 communities around the country on May 5. The city will also be installing the smoke alarms if or when the 500 combination alarms run out of stock, Ireland said.
Fire Chief William McKenna said that homes should have at least one or two smoke alarms in them, and ideally one on each floor of the house. He said the department was able to install nearly 300 through this program last year, but the hope is that every home in Cranston eventually has one.
Fire Marshal Stephen MacIntosh said that it’s unknown how many Cranston homes don’t have alarms currently, but they do run across them occasionally. He said some people “don’t realize the urgency” of having alarms. This grant, he said, allows the fire department to afford the combination alarms and the cost of installation.
“In the past we haven’t had the resources to do it ourselves and help the customers,” he said. “This grant allowed us to go out and seek bids to purchase the equipment.”
He said that there haven’t been carbon monoxides poisoning fatalities in any homes recently, but in the past there has been “close calls,” and even a double fatality in a home years ago. He said that most problems the fire department runs into are false readings, which are due to battery issues in the devices.
The cost of a combination alarm is $48, according to Ireland. The battery life for the ones they’ll be installing is 10 years, as are the smoke alarms that will be installed.
Home Depot is also partnering with the Cranston Fire Department on installation day and to help reduce the price of the alarms, since they can buy them in bulk, according to Home Depot representative Julie Brittsan.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to get involved with the community,” Brittsan said, adding that they’ll provide buckets to use on installation day and work within the project’s budget to purchase the alarms.
For the installation day on May 5 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Cranston East will be the home base for residents to request the combination alarms, while supplies last. After those run out, regular smoke alarms can also be installed in homes through the Red Cross program.
Volunteers are still needed for the event, and appointments to have alarms installed can be made at SoundTheAlarm.org/RhodeIsland.
“This is a great opportunity to take that extra step, check your detectors, give us a call and make sure we get out there and make it a priority,” said Mayor Allan Fung.
After going through Red Cross process, Lt. Ireland also said that he can be reached by phone at 780-4039, where people can leave their names and numbers if they would like to request installation of the combination alarms.