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Grant to help fire department install smoke, CO detectors
new deh fire grant pic
Great Bend firefighter Clint Goode sorts smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the basement of Fire Station 2 Friday afternoon. The devices were purchased through a state grant and will be installed for free in Great Bend homes. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Any Great Bend resident interested in applying for the free smoke and CO alarms through the Great Bend Fire Department can call GBFD Station Number 1 at 620-793-4140. There is a limited number of devices and there are restrictions.

State health and safety officials want fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in every home in Kansas and a grant recently received by the Great Bend Fire Department will help local firefighters do their part.

The funds, through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Kansas Fire Injury Prevention Program, paid for 125 smoke and 250 CO alarms. These are available free to residents within the city limits, said GBFD Battalion Chief Eugene Perkins.

"Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms save lives," Perkins said. That is why his department is so excited to be the latest KFIPP partner.

According to the KDHE, the overall purpose of the KFIPP is to make funds available for Kansas community programs to reduce injuries due to fires and burns. This program is funded by a state-secured federal grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The funds go to fire departments and other organizations charged with tending to public safety.

Perkins said the local effort is intended for single-family residents and apartment complexes are not eligible. "However, everyone else may apply."

There is a limited number of devices and priority will be given to applicants who have small children, elderly or handicapped persons living in the home. A applicant can ask for one device or the other, or both.

Firefighters will begin installation in March.

Sixty-five percent of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms at all or no smoke alarms that work, the KDHE reports. Smoke alarms have played a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries, and have contributed to an almost 50 percent decrease in fire deaths since the late 1970s.

"They want to get these into every home," Perkins said. Since the program started in 2001, 20,000 smoke detectors have been installed and are credited with saving 27 lives.

In 2006, the most recent year that national statistics are available, unintentional injuries were the fifth leading cause of death for Kansans. In the 1-44 age group, unintentional injuries are the leading causes of death nationally and in Kansas.

In 2006, the Kansas Fire Incident Reporting System recorded 64 civilian fire/burn deaths in Kansas and 53 of these deaths took place at home. Fire kills Kansans of all ages, but those less than 5 or more than 65 are particularly vulnerable – in the 75-84 age group there were 7.9 deaths per 100,000 people and in the 65-74 group, it was 4.7/100,000. The 1-4 age group had an age-specific rate of 2.6/100,000.

Anyone interested in applying for the smoke and CO alarms can call GBFD Station Number 1 at 620-793-4140.