By Brandi Makuski
Local fire officials are using a Tuesday night fire to spread local awareness about smoke detectors.
Metro Fire crews were called to the Four Seasons Communities trailer park on Sept. 20 to extinguish a fire that left one family homeless. The close-knit quarters in the trailer park, according to Fire Chief Bob Finn, meant that all the neighbors saw the blaze firsthand.
The cause of the fire, Finn said, was a discarded cigarette. The home had no working smoke detectors.
“Firefighters gained access through the back door and could see smoke and a lot of fire,” Finn said, adding the 911 call came in at about 5:20 PM and crews were on the scene for about four hours.
All three occupants of the home escaped without injury, Finn added.
The tragedy spurned firefighters into action in the neighborhood, using the fire as teaching moment to ensure all residents of the trailer park had a working smoke detector.
“This is a reality check for this trailer park,” said Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Davis. “I’ve installed six of them out here before this happened, but now this has brought it to light for everyone that [sic] lives out here. There were no working smoke detectors in this trailer, so we want to make sure that we have working smoke detectors in every one of these trailers.”
Davis said firefighters across the state partner with the American Red Cross in a program called WiSafe. Through the program, SPFD has installed 200 free smoke detectors across the Stevens Point Area in the past three years.
“Basically we get free smoke detectors through the state as long as we go through a program to install them in people’s houses,” Davis said. “At the same time we do a little safety check, we check to see if they have a CO2 detector, and we’ve given those away also.”
Davis and several other firefighters were combing the trailer park the day after the fire, knocking on doors Wednesday just as heavy rain shows began.
“What we’re doing today is taking names and phone numbers, and we get our next batch of smoke detectors next week,” Davis said. “So we’ll come back then to install them.”
The Stevens Point Fire Dept. installed the smoke detectors free of charge, and also offers free replacement batteries, year-round, David said, recommending battery replacement every six months.
“We come in to some of these places and their smoke detectors are just yellow and you can see they’ve been in there a long time,” he said. “Most of them are missing batteries and don’t work.”
Replacement batteries are also carried on the department’s fire trucks, ambulances and command vehicles, he added.
“I think people just get complacent; people see it on the ceiling and assume it’s working,” Davis said. “We just want to make sure everyone is covered, they’re safe…there’s a lot of kids running around out here.”
“Nobody in this day and age should be without a smoke detector,” Finn said.
The Stevens Point Fire Dept. can beasily reached at (715) 344-1843.