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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Fire department, Red Cross install smoke alarms in high-fire-risk neighborhood

Spokane Fire Marshal Lance Dahl installs a smoke alarm Saturday at a Nevada Heights neighborhood home.  (Garrett Cabeza / The Spokesman-Review)

Fourteen fires have erupted in the Nevada Heights neighborhood in the past two years.

On Saturday, the Spokane Fire Department and American Red Cross teamed up to ensure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms were working in the neighborhood’s homes and to install new alarms if needed.

Ryan Rodin, executive director of the Greater Inland Northwest chapter of the American Red Cross, said the nonprofit has installed more than 2.3 million alarms across the country since 2014. It hasn’t the past two years, however, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is really the first time that we’re seeing each other without masks and we’re actually making contact with the public,” Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said of the program’s return. “It feels really good.”

Rodin said more than 1,200 lives have been saved through the program, a statistic based on the fires that have broken out in the homes where alarms were installed.

Ten groups from the Spokane Fire Department, Red Cross and other agencies knocked on the doors of 500 high-risk homes Saturday. Some residents invited them in to check their alarms and install new ones, others scheduled appointments for them to return and other homeowners declined the free service.

Spokane Fire Marshal Lance Dahl led one group, checking and installing several alarms in the neighborhood.

He installed six smoke alarms in the first home the group visited. Dahl said it’s typical to find homes that don’t have working alarms or the correct amount.

He said alarms should be changed every 10 years. He labeled the newly installed ones with a 10-year replacement date Saturday.

Each sleeping area should have a smoke alarm, and a home’s common area should have a carbon monoxide alarm, which should be replaced every seven to 10 years depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation, Dahl said.

He said he tries not to install smoke alarms in kitchens to avoid false alarms.

John Orton, Yoke’s Fresh Market vice president, documented general information about the homes Dahl surveyed, including how many people live in the house, how many levels the house has and how many alarms there were.

Mike Kamphaus, chief executive of Peirone Produce Co., explained fire safety to residents, including how often they should check their smoke detectors, how long they last and the need for a fire escape plan.

“It’s one of those things you can do (and) when you’re done, you can actually think to yourself, ‘What I did today could make a difference,’ ” said Kamphaus, who is also a Red Cross board member.

Dahl installed two smoke alarms and a carbon monoxide alarm in the home of Sylvia Hall’s mother.

“I think it’s wonderful, honestly,” Hall said of the free installations in the neighborhood.