McAlester-area homes are eligible to receive new smoke alarms and have them installed for free through a program recently revived by the McAlester Fire Department. Through a partnership with Oklahoma ABLE Tech, Oklahoma Assistive Technology Foundation, and Fire Protection Publications, three different styles of smoke alarms are available based on the capacity and needs of each home.
“Any home can qualify for standard dual sensor smoke alarms, regardless of income or size,” said McAlester Fire Department Driver Operator Robby Rivers. “For homes with special needs such a hearing or vision impairment, we are able to install physical bed alarms or visual strobe alarms.”
So far, McAlester firefighters have completed 56 complete-house smoke alarm installations in the area. To take advantage of the program, residents can call the McAlester Fire Department at 918-423-6709. A quick phone interview allows fire department staff to determine the best smoke alarm system for the home and installation typically takes place within two weeks. The program will be in operation as long as supplies are available.
Dual sensor smoke alarms are installed on ceilings and are able to detect slow-smolder and quick-flash fires in homes and sound an audible alarm. For residents who have mobility, hearing, vision, or other qualifying capacities, two other alert devices are available.
The Lifetone Bedside Alarm has a vibrating bed alarm to alert of danger if a standard audible alarm along would not meet their specific needs. The third alarm type is a Gentex Strobe Alarm, allowing residents to view a bright strobe light in adjoining rooms as a visual indicator of smoke or fire in their home. All installs also include a fire safety packet with important information on how to respond in case of a fire or smoke event in the home.
“We always remind people that smoke alarms of any kind are only good for 10 years,” said McAlester Fire Department Driver Operator Kenny Barone. “Smoke detectors save more lives than firemen. It’s always better for people to be alerted of the danger and get out of harm’s way.”
Rivers, an 11-year veteran of the McAlester Fire Department, learned of the program after he was contacted by a McAlester citizen with a hearing impairment in December 2018. After some research, he took the steps necessary to bring this program back to the city to benefit all citizens.
“The unfortunate thing is that we have been unable to reconnect with the citizen who initially reached out to us,” Rivers remarked. “I’m hoping that getting the word out will help him reconnect with us so that we can get his alarms installed.”