PDT Staff Writer
There is no question - smoke detectors do save lives, and State Fire Marshal's Office representatives were in Portsmouth Thursday to present the River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross with 100 smoke detectors to put in area homes.
"It is Fire Prevention Month and something we really wanted to do to help the community is to raise awareness of having functioning smoke detectors in their homes," said Mary Arnzen executive director of the River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross that serves Scioto and Pike counties. "So, we partnered with the local fire department, which was great, because they are great partners with us."
Arnzen said the cooperative effort led Portsmouth Firefighters to volunteer to install the detectors.
"The people really will take advantage of it, we hope, and not take the smoke detector and lay it on their counter. It will be installed by the firemen," Arnzen said. "So, we think that will be a very good partnership."
Responding to house fires is one of those programs the Red Cross is committed to, and in this area, that has become a costly venture, Arnzen said.
"In 2008, we had a really rough year around here, around the city of Portsmouth. We had 12 deaths in family fires, and it cost our chapter $41,000 to give aid to those particular people," Arnzen said. "But it is a very necessary project for the Red Cross, because that is our mission - to prevent, prepare, and respond to emergencies in our area."
On hand for the presentation of the smoke detectors were Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison, Tom Peterson, pre-paredness specialist with the Cincinnati Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, and Superintendent Frank Conway of the Ohio Fire Academy,
"There are fire departments across the state that do similar programs through the State Fire Marshal's Office. We've had a program where we've worked through local departments and the Department of Aging to identify people who may need the smoke detectors, but could not afford them," Conway said. "So, we work through those agencies and give them the smoke detector, and the fire departments come in and install them for them."
Conway said the request for the smoke detectors to be donated to the River Valley Chapter was a natural cooperative effort.
"We have worked with the Red Cross in the past - so we saw the opportunity to distribute some additional smoke detectors. And we talked it over with our administration, and they were really in favor of it, and want us to incorporate this in other regions of the state as well," Conway said.
Conway said his department is looking at other areas with high fire deaths, and hoping to set up similar programs in those areas as well.
Raison was asked if there was a certain area in Portsmouth where more fires occurred than others, and he told those present they occur in all areas of the city, and no one area accounts for more fires than another.
After a ceremony Thursday morning, those involved moved to the home of Genetta Moore, 1720 Waller St., where members of the Portsmouth Fire Department installed a smoke detector.
"The Governor was even aware of us being down here today, and us doing this program," Conway said. "And he was very supportive that we were being involved in the community and helping the community out."
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.