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Sunday, June 7, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

Fire prevention targets Gonzaga student housing

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. It’s just a saying, but the Spokane Fire Department, the Red Cross and students from Gonzaga University think it could save lives.

This weekend, volunteers from those organizations will canvas the Logan neighborhood, knocking on doors and checking for homes without smoke detectors. Their work is part of National Fire Prevention Week, and if they find a home in need of a detector, they’ll either install it then or come back in a couple of weeks to install one, free of charge.

“We specifically targeted the Logan neighborhood, primarily because of the student population,” said Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer, pointing to Gonzaga, Moody Bible Institute and students in the University District. “In a small house, you may have four or five students. A couple of the larger fires we’ve had recently have been homes like that.”

Schaeffer said the volunteers will have about 500 smoke alarms on hand this weekend. The alarms will have two sensors and be able to detect slow smoldering fires as well as quickly developing flash fires.

Conner House, Gonzaga’s student body president, said the student body association is trying to become better partners with the community. One way is by helping find homes that need smoke detectors.

“We’re really looking to change our campus culture by engaging with the off-campus community,” said House, a senior majoring in international studies and political science.

The fire department wants every Spokane household to do three things this coming week. First, press the smoke alarm’s test button to make sure the batteries are still working. Long-life lithium batteries last 10 years, the lifespan as a smoke alarm. Locate the words “ionization,” “photoelectric” or “photo-ion” on the back label to see the type of detector. The fire department recommends having at least one photoelectric or photo-ion detector on each floor.

“Just take five minutes to check their smoke detectors. Pull it off the wall or ceiling. There should be a date of manufacture,” said Lisa Jones, a fire marshal. “It should not be older than 10 years. If it is, it should be replaced. It will not detect accurately.”

If a home’s fire detector is broken, Jones said the consequences could be dire. “That’s going to be the difference between life and death,” she said.

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