Despite widespread awareness of the need for their installation, firefighters across Michigan’s Great Southwest are always surprised at how many homes either don’t have enough smoke detection fire alarms, or whose devices are inactive due to lack of batteries. They are even more alarmed at how many homes lack Carbon Monoxide or CO detectors.
As most people know, October is National Fire Safety and Prevention Month, and many local fire departments work diligently to assure that the homes they are charged with protecting have adequate alarm systems installed.
However, there are 26 fire departments in Berrien County alone, and many of the firefighters are community volunteers. On top of that, budgets are seemingly always tight just to operate and maintain fire stations across the region. Typically, extra fire safety equipment ends up being funded through other special programs.
Faced with those conditions, the good folks at SERVPRO of Berrien County, based in Benton Harbor, are reaching out again this year to help local fire departments fund fire safety equipment and the distribution of free detectors.
The team at SERVPRO deals nearly every day with fire victims both commercial and residential, as they help with board-up services to cover roofs and other openings such as windows and doors following a fire. They also work routinely in the realm of complete restoration and rebuilding services for fire victims, working shoulder-to-shoulder with insurance companies of all sizes and types.
Bob Rogers, Marketing Manager at SERVPRO of Berrien County, will be the first to tell you, “Fire prevention is good for everybody,” having witnessed first-hand the devastation following a fire tragedy.
That’s why his team is working to make smoke alarms available for free to those residents of the county in need, and many fire departments will install them for the residents in the process.
Rogers and the crew at SERVPRO are asking for local businesses and others interested in helping fund the project to call him at 269-925-6841. Keep in mind that none of the money donated for the cause goes through SERVPRO, the money all flows directly through the Berrien County Firefighters Association, so that 100-percent of the money can be utilized where it counts. If you are writing a check to them, please be sure to include “Fire Safety Equipment” in the memo line, as that earmarks allows the association to purchase the most needed equipment to get the job done.
Rogers tells us, “The smoke alarm program has been a success for many years, however, fire departments rarely have enough alarms to distribute for the entire year. So for the 2020 program we decided to allow other community safety minded organizations to share the sponsorship.” He says that as a result, Spectrum Health Lakeland, Honor Credit Union, Home Depot and Mid-West Family are all participating.” He adds, however, “Even by doubling the donations received, only 1,300 fire alarms and 130 CO alarms were purchased (4 per station) at a total cost of $7,000.”
The goal for the program is to provide 2,000 fire alarms and 600 CO alarms annually, at an approximate cost of $20,000. Bob Rogers at SERVPRO would like to find 8 companies in the region that would be willing to donate $2,500 each year for a 3-year run.
Everyone is encouraged to help to keep the success of the program going, and anyone in need of a detector should call their local fire department to ask for assistance.