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 Eastpointe Fire Marshal Brian Marquardt gives Warren resident Willas Shetler a new smoke detector as part of the department’s efforts to promote fire safety during the winter months.

Eastpointe Fire Marshal Brian Marquardt gives Warren resident Willas Shetler a new smoke detector as part of the department’s efforts to promote fire safety during the winter months.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

Eastpointe Fire Department promotes winter safety with smoke detector giveaway

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published November 29, 2019

EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe Fire Department gave out free smoke detectors Nov. 20 to get the word out about winter fire safety.

The smoke detectors were purchased by Community Choice Credit Union, of Eastpointe, which also hosted the smoke detector giveaway.

“We’re very appreciative of Community Choice Credit Union for stepping up and sponsoring the smoke alarm giveaway,” said Eastpointe Deputy Fire Chief Nick Sage. “It demonstrates a tremendous effort to give back to the community by helping with something that is so important to us.”

At least 35 smoke detectors were given away. Credit union officials said they were glad to be of assistance.

“We try to do a lot in the community, especially with the Fire Department right across the street from us,” said Mike Ricken, the member center manager of the branch. “We thought that with the recent fires, this would be a good way to give back to the community.”

The program was also used as a means to promote safety tips that often come up during the cold weather months. Eastpointe Fire Marshal Brian Marquardt was on hand to educate people about common winter risks.

“The biggest concern in winter as far as fire safety is portable space heaters,” he said. “They’re fine to be used, but they need to be plugged directly into the wall, not into an extension cord or power strip. There needs to be a 36-inch clearance around the space heater to ensure no combustibles are near it. Make sure yours has an automatic tip-over shut-off and to stay in the room while it is on.”

He continued by saying that basic prevention methods can go a long way toward keeping a home safe from fire hazards.

“The other thing to watch out for are chimneys,” Marquardt said. “People will start to light fires now that it’s cold out, but they often haven’t had their chimney serviced. There could be cracks in there, or animals and rodents might have gotten in there and built a nest. Those are hazards. We also want to warn people not to try and heat their homes with their ovens. They’re not built for that. There are programs out there like (The Heat and Warmth Fund, known as THAW) to help with energy and utility bills in the colder months.”

Residents in the Eastpointe and Roseville area can contact THAW by calling (586) 415-8100 to get more information about the program.

Marquardt added that people need to ensure that they have working carbon monoxide detectors, especially during the winter.

“Carbon monoxide detectors also are important,” said Marquardt. “They’re always important, but in the winter, people always have their windows closed up, and you’re using your furnace and other appliances that use gas more often, so there’s more risk of problems in the winter.”

The Eastpointe Fire Department has been taking part in more community outreach and giving away more free equipment this year after several fatal fires struck the community last year. Department officials have said that working smoke detectors might have prevented some of the tragedies.

“Recently, there were five more deaths around the state of Michigan of children in fires: two in the Grosse Pointes and three in Lansing,” Marquardt said. “Smoke detectors save lives, and they are inexpensive to put up in a house.”

Although the smoke detector giveaway at Community Choice Credit Union was only a one-day event, Marquardt said the department is always working to make sure that it hass moke detectors available to give away to the public.

“We do get donations of smoke detectors from private organizations, such as insurance companies or nonprofits,” he said. “If you’re a resident of Eastpointe, just stop by the station and fill out a quick form, and we can get you a smoke detector. We can only give out one at a time, but we are always working to get more. … Many other fire departments have similar programs.”