EFFINGHAM — Effingham firefighters were on a mission Wednesday to help residents simply for the sake of doing good deeds.

In remembrance of the attacks on Americans 18 years ago on Sept. 11, the department stepped out of the station and into several homes checking and replacing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Wednesday’s service event was in observance of the federally recognized September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance or “9/11 Day.”

According to the 9/11 Day website, it is a day to dedicate time to help others in the spirit of service.

Early that morning, the fire department also raised a new commemorative Sept. 11, 2001, flag to half-staff at Central Fire Station. The USA flag features the historic date and the New York City skyline. It was to remain up until sunset Wednesday.

Several personnel from the Central Station spent two hours on foot carrying new detectors to homes along Edgar Avenue, making sure residents’ alarms are up to date.

Resident Jeramie Boone willingly let the firefighters in his home in the 500 block of West Edgar after experiencing a house fire several years ago at his home in Altamont.

“It’s really nice that they come in and do something like this for the community,” said Boone.

Bonita Thomas also welcomed the free service.

“I think it is nice that they do this,” said Thomas, who lives in the 400 block of West Edgar. “I was getting ready to check that one, but they did it for me.”

Effingham Fire Chief Bob Tutko said the two hours of helping out neighbors, checking and installing smoke detectors and providing fire and life safety information was to recognize 9/11 Day as a “Day of Service” in honor of those lost and injured during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Firefighters said some residents they met with on Wednesday either didn’t need new detectors, or opted to check their own, while some welcomed the help.

B.J. Scott, who lives in the 400 block of West Edgar, said she had them check four smoke detectors and one carbon monoxide detector in her home on Wednesday.

“We had two bad detectors,” said Scott. “These they installed are good for 10 years.”

Those homes in which nobody answered were given a Neighborhood Smoke Detector Program door hanger explaining the free service available to any resident. It came with a reminder to test your smoke detectors weekly.

The National Fire Protection Association says that a smoke alarm should be installed inside every bedroom, outside of each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the attic and basement. Smoke detectors now have non-replaceable batteries and have a life expectancy of about 10 years, while a carbon monoxide detector lasts between five and seven years.

The NFPA’s website reports that the top causes of fires are from cooking, heating, electrical, smoking and candles. The association also reaffirmed the value of smoke detectors as an early warning detector.

While 96 percent of American’s homes have at least one smoke alarm, the NFPA’s data shows that there were no smoke alarms, or none that were working, in two out of five home fires between 2003-2006.

The website also encourages families to practice their escape plan during which the smoke alarm is activated so all family members know its sound.

Dawn Schabbing can be reached at dawn.schabbing@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151, ext 138.


Dawn Schabbing is a senior reporter at the Effingham Daily News, covering Effingham City Hall, Unit 40, and special projects. A graduate of Lake Land College and Eastern Illinois University with degrees in journalism, she lives in Neoga.

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