Odessa Fire Marshals to Install Smoke Alarms for Free - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Odessa Fire Marshals to Install Smoke Alarms for Free

Anum Valliani
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Soon with Christmas trees in the house, candles burning and old theaters humming to life, there are chances there could also be a life-threatening fire. But for those of you in Odessa who don't have smoke detectors, or at least working ones at home, there's an easy fix that without the price tag.

Officials say it usually takes a fatality to realize their smoke detectors don't work so the Odessa Fire Department wants to change that. They estimate that one in four people don't have a smoke detector at home. That's why the Insurance Council of Texas donated about 200 smoke alarms to Odessa out of the 2,000 they send throughout the state.

"We don't want this to be just a giveaway where we just hand these smoke alarms out to people but we want to actually install them," Mark Hannah, a spokesman for the initiative with ICT, said.

Local firefighters could install them to interested people for free or even change batteries at no cost. They say they haven't turned anyone away yet, but also that if you don't call, they won't know you don't have it and won't be able install it.

The ICT works with fire marshals to identify cities with high fire fatalities. There have been two fatal fires in Odessa since 2012 but more out in the county. Arson Investigator, Matt Lawdermilk with the Odessa Fire Marshal's Office, says the trade has saved lives in the past.

He said he remembers a couple of families that had been affected just days or weeks after they had the detectors installed.

"I believe it was a family of four, they had several small children and they were able to get out of the house with plenty of time prior to the fire overtaking the family," he said.

He also said he's glad to have an organization that is supporting the goal.

"It makes us feel good, it makes us feel like the state is aware of the issues. I mean Odessa's growing, it's one of the fastest growing cities in the country actually so to have these available to us so that we can distribute them, it helps us on our side as far as the investigation. It helps the community in general," Lawdermilk said.

In 2013, 2,000 alarms went out to 19 cities, and in the eight years since the program started, officials have distributed about 11,000 to 31 cities and the Odessa Fire Department has never ran out of donated smoke detectors.

There's still a surplus, so if you're in need of one, call the Central Fire Station at (432) 257-0518 and they'll be able to help.
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