The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) recommends that all smoke alarms be replaced after 10 years. This is even more important with the standard ionization based alarms which are what has generally been installed by most builders. Ionization-type smoke alarms have a small amount of radioactive material between two electrically charged plates, which ionizes the air and causes current to flow between the plates. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow of ions, thus reducing the flow of current and activating the alarm. What many people don’t realize is that after about 10 years the material in these alarms literally runs out and although it will still beep when you test it and the light will still flash is can no longer detect a fire.
This Saturday, July 9th, as a part of the Home Fire Prevention Campaign, Harris County ESD 48 Fire Department along with the American Red Cross, Katy Area CERT and volunteers from the community will begin conducting their third “Smoke Alarm Blitz” of the year in the Oak Park Trails subdivision. Teams consisting of Fire Fighters, Red Cross volunteers, and CERT member are working with Lisa Balkani and the Oak Park Trails HOA to target a section of their neighborhood and will be going door-to-door helping residents check for working smoke alarms, develop a fire escape plan and provide additional fire safety information. For homes without working smoke alarms or where the alarms are out of date, the firefighters will install 10-year lithium battery smoke alarms for free. In addition to the smoke alarms provided by the Red Cross, HCESD 48 has partnered with Ace Hardware – Cinco Ranch and arranged for a bulk purchase of additional Photo-Electric alarms and Carbon Monoxide detectors in order to assist families who may need a few more devices.
HCESD 48 Fire Chief Jeff Hevey says the “Blitz” will cover a lot of territory in the allotted four hours. “Our goal is to install as many homes as possible on Saturday, and to inform those who aren’t home how to get in touch with the fire department, so we can come back to install new smoke alarms if needed.” Hevey says, “We were quite surprised during our previous two Blitz’s how many smoke alarms were more than 30 years old. This is a real concern because so many people don’t know that even if they have an smoke alarm and they change the battery regularly, if the alarm is more than 10 years old it may not actually detect smoke anymore.” HCESD 48 wants to make sure that Katy residents are taking all the proper safety precautions possible to ensure safer homes.
The Red Cross is currently conducting a five-year smoke alarm installation campaign in unprotected homes throughout the United States and its territories until fall 2019, in order to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent.
We need your help. If your neighborhood is more than 10 years old we would love to schedule a Smoke Alarm Blitz in your area too. You can reach out to your HOA or your neighborhood’s management company and let them know that this program exists or forward us a contact that we can reach out to directly. If you are part of a group who would like to volunteer to participate in future Smoke Alarm Blitz’s we love to involve community residents in our outreach efforts. Anyone with questions, suggestions or to request a team to assist you please send us an email at CommunityTeam@hcesd48.org or call our non-emergency number at (281) 578-2518.