PFD putting out fires before they get started

POULSBO — Sometimes the best things in life are free, especially if they are lifesaving devices.

And the Poulsbo Fire Department hopes residents within its boundaries take advantage of its latest free offering — smoke detectors.

As part of Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9-15, PFD Fire prevention specialist Kristi Wlodarchak will be working specifically with residents of area mobile homes parks and seniors on installing smoke detectors in their homes. While the devices are free, the only stipulation is that firefighters have to install them.

The department doesn’t like to just hand out detectors, Wlodarchak explained, because it doesn’t know if they ever get installed. In fact, the department keeps track of which detectors go where so if firefighters save any buildings that have one of the tracked devices, they can make a record of it. By keeping track of their use in reducing fire damage and saving lives, the district can use that information to get more funding for future fire prevention programs.

While the district runs a smoke detector program year-round, Wlodarchak said its focus is on those two demographics this week because of the limited number of detectors available for the campaign. However, anyone can come to the station and set up an appointment for firefighters to install one in their house, she said.

The department will kick off the campaign at noon Oct. 11 by holding a brief presentation for seniors at the Poulsbo Senior Center on Front Street. Seniors will be able to sign up for smoke detector installations.

“It’s a good time of year because people will be using heaters, fireplaces,” she said of the campaign’s timing.

She is hoping to schedule events in the near future at area mobile home parks within the fire district. She is specifically concerned about mobile homes, as they burn quickly if they catch fire. Many units in the area are aged, she said, and may not have ever had smoke detectors installed.

Wlodarchak pointed out two features that make the devices unique and easy for residents.

“The coolest feature about these is that they are equipped with lithium batteries,” she said, adding that the batteries last for 10 years — which is the same the lifetime span of a smoke detector. Typically, batteries are taken out or never changed, which make the detector useless in the event of a fire, she said.

The other feature is the “hush” button, which residents can press if they accidentally set the device off while cooking.

“When you get a lot of false alarms, people want to rip them out,” she said.

Pushing the button will silence the alarm, but it will continue to chirp for seven minutes. The alarm will then reset itself.

It prevents people from pulling the smoke detector off the wall and throwing it away, Wlodarchak explained.

For more information about smoke detectors or to make an appointment, call Wlodarchak at (360) 779-3997.

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