More than 1,000 Lincoln area children will come home from school with free smoke detectors following a fundraiser organized by the city’s firefighters.
Lincoln Fire Department Captain Cory Stratton and Chief Les Brown came up with the plan after the service battled two fires in the past year in buildings that did not have working smoke detectors, said Stratton.
The first of these caused the death of Adèle Parent, 7, in February. Parent, who was the first child to die in a fire in Maine in six years, was in first grade at Ella P. Burr School at the time of his death. More than 260 smoke detectors were given to the students of this school on Monday and will return home to each of their families.
The fundraising campaign, which just ended after starting in August, raised $ 5,500, Stratton said. Including those already distributed, this sum will pay for 1,064 new smoke detectors.
Much of that money came in the form of small donations from residents, Stratton said. The largest contribution, $ 2,500, came from Modern Woodmen, a fraternal charitable society with a location in Lincoln. Other large donations came from Lincoln’s Penobscot Valley Hospital and Machias Savings Bank.
The second set of 800 smoke detectors will go to students at Mattanawcook High School in Lincoln and cover Ella Burr’s remaining students. Others will go to students in local preschools and children attending Community Evangel Temple, a Pentecostal church in the city, Stratton said.
While it is not known how many people in Lincoln do not have working smoke detectors, the fire department encounters homes without them all the time, said Stratton, who is the fire prevention officer for the service for 13 years.
“It’s really pretty devastating,” Stratton said. “It’s one of the easiest things you can do to protect your family. ”
In addition to Parent’s death in February, the effort also came in response to a fire that caused extensive damage to an address on Lee Road in August. Stratton said he couldn’t find a single smoke detector in the house when he looked around the building following the fire.
Like many other fire departments across the country, Lincoln Fire runs campaigns every year asking residents to change the batteries in their smoke detectors twice a year. Departments often ask people to do this when the clocks change in the fall and spring so that people will remember them.
Stratton said he enjoyed his role as a fire prevention officer, which often includes trips to local schools.
He understands that people lead busy lives and may not always have fire safety in mind. However, he said, it is essential that residents take steps to protect themselves. Having a working smoke detector in the home is one of those crucial steps, he said.
“It can save a life so quickly,” Stratton said.