News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Mar. 20, 2014
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- For Alisha Settles, her smoke alarms could mean the difference between life and death.
"It is just so quick that a house can catch up in flames,” she says.
On Saturday, men and women from the Aiken Department of Public Safety gave her two new smoke alarms. While Settles had a smoke alarm already, her unit was an older one.
"They installed new ones. They walked through the house and installed them, and it was very quick and painless,” she says.
But Settles wasn’t the only person Aiken Public Safety helped. Teams of officers and firefighters canvassed the Kennedy Colony neighborhood as part of a program funded by a grant from the South Carolina Office of State Fire Marshal. Public Safety handed out and installed 342 free smoke alarms.
"Early warning and early detection is what saves lives in residential fires. That's the key to everything,” says Captain Brian Brazier with Public Safety.
Captain Brazier says the program was needed. Aiken County had ten fire fatalities last year, which was the most in the state. In Kennedy Colony there have been 10 fires since 2007. The fires resulted in $272,000 worth of damage.
"We definitely have to get the message out of having a proper working smoke alarm and also to replace it if it's over ten years old,” says Brazier.
Just in Settles’ neighborhood alone, the stats are alarming. Of the 117 homes public safety helped 57% either had no smoke alarm at all or smoke alarms that didn't work. Just 2.5% of the homes were completely protected.
Soon, Brazier hopes to get more grant money to make more neighborhoods safe.
"A lot of times in this area, it is a lot of older people,” says Settles. “They are not able to do all of that, and it was so nice that they came out and did that."
Smoke alarms are mostly inexpensive, and if you have one and need help installing it, Public Safety will help. Most other fire departments are glad to help as well.