Houlton Pioneer Times

Patten residents can receive free smoke alarms

PATTEN, Maine — The American Red Cross and the Patten Fire Department are teaming up to make homes safer on Sunday, May 19, with free smoke alarms and home fire safety education.

According to the American Red Cross, when a home fire breaks out, residents may have as little as two minutes to escape to safety. Smoke alarms provide an early warning that can make all the difference. Working smoke alarms reduce the risk of death by half and an escape plan further improves the odds of survival.

The Red Cross launched its Home Fire Campaign in 2014 to reduce home fire deaths and injuries. At least 589 lives — including three in Old Town last year — have been saved because of these efforts, Red Cross officials said.

“We have been participating in the Sound the Alarm Campaign since March,” said Caleb Cullen, a volunteer firefighter for Patten who is also a nursing student at the University of Maine at Fort Kent in his junior year. “Since then, we have installed 196 smoke detectors in 56 different homes in the community.”

Cullen said that on May 19, the department will be working all day to make more installations in the homes that request them. If time permits, the firefighters also will go door to door to other homes to install detectors. The Patten Fire Department will continue to install detectors on an as needed basis after May 19.

“The community is filled with many old homes that are not up to current building code,” Cullen said. “Many homes in the community may not have any smoke detectors and most all of them do not have an amount that is adequate to meet current safety recommendations.”

He said many homeowners also do not realize that smoke detectors should be replaced after 10 years.

“This program gives the fire department an opportunity to get in to homes in the community and become familiar with layouts and special considerations, while also being able to test and check the age of current smoke detectors,” he said. “This also provides an opportunity to do a brief home fire safety inspection, while installing additional detectors in areas of the home that are lacking to ensure proper home fire safety.”

Patten residents can make appointments for free smoke alarm installation by calling 874-1192, extension 113, or visiting SoundTheAlarm.org/Maine.

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