A $589,000 federal grant will help Baltimore County fire officials provide public education about preventing fires and carbon monoxide-related incidents, especially in neighborhoods at higher risk from these tragedies.
Fire officials, along with County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, kicked off the program on Friday morning at the Randallstown home of Theodore and Geraldine Barham. The Barhams are the first family to participate in the program.
“This grant is going to help us save lives,” Kamenetz said. “Working smoke/CO alarms prevent tragedies, and yet so many families in our communities don’t have them or don’t know how to use them.”
Several months ago, the Baltimore County Fire Department received the most significant federal fire safety grant in years, a $589,000 award issued under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Fire Prevention and Safety program. Under the terms of the grant, Baltimore County contributes 5 percent, or $29,452.
“We know that detectors save lives, but telling people to use them isn’t enough – and we know from experience that installing detectors doesn’t necessarily mean they are working,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “This federal grant will enable local firefighters to make house calls to ensure residents not only have detectors, but that they will work when needed. This is exactly the type of common sense investment in public safety that our constituents expect us to prioritize.”
The grant includes the purchase of smoke/CO alarms for distribution to residents who participate in the educational program and meet the program criteria. The grant also includes smoke and CO alarms for the deaf and hard of hearing and printed educational materials in multiple languages.
“Our goal is to help people take charge of their own home fire and CO safety,” said Fire Chief Kyrle W. Preis III.
Fire crews from every career station have been identifying areas in their districts at risk of fire and CO-related incidents. Beginning Saturday, April 14, fire personnel will begin canvassing targeted neighborhoods, providing educational information, evaluating properties for safety recommendations, and performing walk-through evaluations for residents who request them.
Volunteer stations will be invited to assist with these events and specific locations will be announced via Baltimore County’s social media platforms prior to the firefighters’ visits.
County Council Chair Julian E. Jones Jr., a veteran fire professional, praised this initiative. “After 32 years in the fire service, I know that prevention and early warning are critical in preventing injury and loss of life, and I enthusiastically support this proactive effort by the County to get modern smoke and CO detectors into homes,” he said.
Residents may request a visit from Fire personnel to review home fire and CO safety prevention. A request form is available at www.baltimorecountymd.gov/preventhomefires.