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City of Lincoln
Fire & Rescue Department

Grant Funeded Smoke Detector Program


Lincoln Fire & Rescue saw the need for a major smoke detector distribution effort in 2000. It had been about ten years since LFR made a distribution push across the city. During those ten years, Lincoln saw an influx of new Americans coming to the community from many different parts of the world. The elderly population also continued to grow and there was always a need to serve low income residents. We identified those three groups as “high Risk” for potential fire hazards. LFR applied for grant funding to support a fire safety program to protect citizens from fire related injuries and to protect property throughout the city.

Lincoln Fire & Rescue was awarded a fire prevention and safety grant from the Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Fire Administration to administer the safety initiative in 2003. Work started on the smoke detector distribution program in 2004. LFR purchased 12,000 smoke detectors for the project. The department also upgraded its public education efforts with the grant funds. A new fire safety house was purchased and is now heavily used at community events. Other public education tools were purchased to enhance the fire safety message presented by the department.

Lincoln Fire & Rescue has used the smoke detector distribution program as a community outreach project. The department enlisted the help of many human resource agencies to reach our “at risk” population. That population includes new Americans who have a reluctance to interact with safety and government organizations. LFR partnered with a number of agencies who break the barriers down, allowing LFR to reach the hard to reach.

One of the first and most successful partnerships took place at The Lincoln Action Program (LAP) during the holiday season of 2004. LAP serves free Thanksgiving dinners, provides winter clothing and personal items to all of its clients. Those clients are low income and new Americans. LFR took part in that program and handed out 2500 smoke detectors in two days. Most of the people served had never had a smoke detector in their homes.

Another successful partnership reached elderly in the community. The Lincoln Area on Aging Services (LAA) has programs for the elderly in eight Nebraska counties, including Lancaster County. LFR created a program with LAA that put thousands of free smoke detectors into the homes of the elderly across the city. Smoke detectors were made available at all the senior centers in Lincoln. LAA also assisted with low cost installation through its Handyman program. Many elderly citizens had not replaced their smoke detectors in years. This program allowed many low income elderly to replace outdated or inoperative smoke detectors. LFR also attends the annual Aging Festival where hundreds of smoke detectors were handed out during the 2005 Festival.

LFR has targeted “at risk” neighborhoods based on dwelling age in those areas, where building codes did not require smoke detectors when the homes were built. This information was used to distribute smoke detectors to areas of concern. LFR worked with human resource agencies in the area including: Cedars Youth Services, Clyde Malone Center, The Asian Center, Faces of the Middle East, The Hispanic Center, The Salvation Army, The Center For People in Need and many others to blanket the most “at risk” neighborhoods. These agencies paved the way for LFR to reach low income and new Americans living in these neighborhoods. Not only did LFR provide smoke detectors, but the installation instructions and other fire safety materials were translated into five different languages to assist non English speaking residents understand the need for smoke detectors.

The Center for People in Need is a human resource agency that serves low income residents of Lincoln. LFR partnered with The Center for People In Need in a unique smoke detector distribution event. More than 75 volunteers canvassed the trailer parks across Lincoln, providing smoke detectors to those living in mobile homes. Those structures have always been a fire safety concern to LFR and this outreach effort provided much needed fire security to those living in the trailer homes. This effort was featured in the Lincoln Journal Star.

LFR also worked with the Community Learning Centers and elementary schools in “at risk” areas of the city. Smoke detector distribution was part of many safety days and back to school events.

Smoke detectors were also given away at a series of fire safety festivals. LFR has been part of The Safe Kids Coalition for many years. These two organizations came together to sponsor fire safety festivals at fire stations in “at risk” areas. These events were very successful with hundreds of citizens attending.

LFR plans to continue its smoke detector program and to stress the importance of fire safety across the community with its public education efforts. LFR continues to be committed to fire safety education for all residents now and in the future.

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