City of Odessa Receives Free Smoke Alarms for Elderly and Low Income Families

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA--The State Fire Marshal, Odessa Fire Department and the Insurance Council of Texas have teamed up for a statewide program called, "We're Out to Alarm Texas." Their targeting low income families and the elderly.  One Odessa couple was the first to receive a state of the art smoke detector for free.

James and Carla Owings have lived in the same house for 26 years and have never installed a smoke alarm.  Under the circumstances, they say they've been truly blessed they haven't needed one.

The sound of a smoke detector going off is a sound the Owings have never heard in their apartment.  And now that they have a smoke alarm installed, they hope they never will, especially considering their disability.

"I have cataracts and I can see, it's called legally blind.  I can see to get around.  I can see the light in my eyes.   James is totally blind.   He can't see anything at all," Carla explained.

She commented, when her health started to decline, they actually considered putting in a smoke alarm, "We just never have done it, never did do it.  That's all, just never had done it.  You know how you put stuff off?"

According to State Fire Marshal Paul Maldonado installing one has put the Owings in a more positive statistic, "If you have a working smoke alarm in your home, it increases your chance of survival by 50%.  So many times we go out and investigate the causes of these fires and so many times we find that there was no smoke alarm present."

Maldonado says the alarm they now own is high quality, affordable to everyone and a very wise investment, "We're very fortunate that we have these First Alert Smoke Alarms that are these state of the art alarms.  They're combination alarms.  They work to identify, not only the flaming fire but also the fire that produces smoke with low flame output."

The Owings say they feel much safer now.  And if they hear the sound in the future, they know exactly what to do, "We'll know if something catches on fire or smoke at all, we'll be out the door."

If you would like to see if you qualify for one of these free smoke alarms, just contact the Odessa Fire Department.