Michiana fire departments say new grant could help reduce injury, deaths

NOW: Michiana fire departments say new grant could help reduce injury, deaths

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- Indiana has received more than a half-million dollars to launch a campaign that could save Hoosier lives.

The State Fire Marshal’s office will use the $521,000 over the next two years to install 10,000 smoke detectors and 1,000 shaking bed/ strobe alarms in the homes of high risk populations to reduce injury and prevent fire deaths.

More than 85 people died in Indiana house fires in 2018. That’s up from 72 in 2017.

The project called “Get Alarmed Indiana” is slated to begin in the spring.

Local fire departments will canvas houses in places usually at risk for fires, like low income neighborhoods and mobile home communities, the install smoke alarms for free.

“It gives those fire departments… an opportunity to make their community safer,” said State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson. “It’s also is a life safety issue. We can’t always prevent a fire from occurring, but if we can get people early warning to escape their home, it reduces the risk of injury to citizens and firefighters who may have to respond to these fires.”

Across the country, more than two thirds of deadly fires happened in houses with no working smoke alarm.

The Penn Township Fire Department says if firefighters want to provide detectors, it usually comes out of their budget. However, not all departments can afford it.

Penn Fire says they’re excited to apply for this program. Battalion Chief Al Kirsits says it will get detectors into homes that need it most and educate the people living inside.

“Fire spreads quicker and, you know, through the years, I’ve heard people say, ‘The smoke alarms went off and we barely made it out.’” said Kirsits. “It you don’t have a smoke alarm, you’re not making it out. That’s the bottom line. There’s needless lives lost for a $10 smoke alarm. That should not have happened. We’d like to get these out there.”

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