Federal Funds Support Smoke Alarm Program on Maui
By Wendy Osher
The Maui County Department of Fire and Public Safety will begin installing smoke alarms at high risk homes in October, under the federally funded Smoke Alarm Maui Program.
“Statistically, seniors and children 4-years-old and younger are at the most risk of injury or death from fires in a residence; that’s where we come in,” said Maui Fire Inspector Kapono Stupplebeen.
Maui Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray said one of the most reliable and effective steps to address fire hazards is the installation of smoke alarms at home. “Injury or death from fire can be prevented by educating ourselves about fire safety and taking the proper actions to address common fire hazards,” he said.
“Smoke alarms, when installed and maintained properly, have proven to be valuable instruments for protecting your family from fires in the home,” said Murray.
The service is provided at no cost to selected applicants, and is made possible through the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Fire Prevention and Safety Grant Program.
A one-page application process and telephone screening is used to determine eligibility, with preference given to:
- Applicants that own the home or apartment in whole;
- Seniors who live alone or with other seniors;
- Households, with seniors, that are financially unable to acquire smoke alarms;
- Financially-challenged families with young children; and
- People that for what ever reason cannot afford to install and who are without working Smoke Alarms.
Qualified applicants will be contacted to arrange an installation day.
“The S.A.M. program combines the use of smoke alarms and fire safety education to reduce your chance of becoming one of the statistics,” said Inspector Stupplebeen.
The recipients of the program are asked to make a commitment to develop a Fire Safety Plan for their home. The plan includes drawing and practicing a fire escape plan, setting a meeting place for family members, testing smoke alarms monthly, and responding to follow up surveys.
S.A.M. teams will also follow up with home inspections, providing fire safety tips, and distributing literature on fire safety.
Applications are available at all County Fire Stations with additional drop boxes and applications available at: Kaunoa Senior Services 401 Alakapa Place in Spreckelsville, Monday to Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (office 270-7308); or at the Maui County Office on Aging 2200 Main Street Suite 547 in Wailuku, Monday to Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (office 270-7774).
The Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety will be working in partnership with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Kaunoa Senior Services, the Maui Office on Aging, and other agencies and businesses to carry out the program goals.
A recent National Fire Protection Association report stated that nearly two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms.
According to the report, smoke alarms were present in almost three-quarters 72% of reported home fires and sounded in half 51% of the home fires reported to US fire departments for the years from 2005 to 2009.
The same report revealed that more than one-third of home fire deaths resulted from fires in which no smoke alarms were present at all; and one-quarter of the deaths were caused by fires in properties in which smoke alarms were present but failed to operate.