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(Tube City Almanac photo)
McKeesport firefighters have installed 700 smoke alarms in city homes since 2015 and would like to make it an even 1,000 before the end of 2019.
Fire Chief Jeff Tomovcsik said that in cooperation with the American Red Cross of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the department will install smoke alarms, free of charge, in any residence in the city.
"Just call the fire station or email us," he said. "We will call you back and set up a time for installation. There is no income restriction. It just has to be installed in an occupied residence."
National Fire Prevention Week is held every year in October to commemorate the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and firefighters were busy last week doing safety demonstrations in local schools, Tomovcsik said.
But the smoke detector program is an ongoing campaign that was created after a fire in October 2014 killed six members of the Egenlauf family. A former McKeesport man, Ryan Williams, now 29, confessed to setting that blaze and is currently serving two life sentences without possibility for parole at the state prison in Albion, Erie County.
There were no working smoke detectors in the home.
The free smoke alarm program is available to both renters and homeowners, Tomovcsik said.
To make an appointment, call (412) 675-5021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomovcsik said residents who want to purchase and install their own smoke alarms, or who do not live within the city limits, should consider purchasing and installing one in each bedroom; one in the basement; and one each in a second-floor hallway and attic, if applicable.
One also should be purchased and installed in a first-floor common area --- but not in the kitchen, Tomovcsik said. If a smoke alarm is put in the kitchen and goes off too many times, there will be a temptation to remove the battery, he said. "We all know what happens when the alarm keeps going off," Tomovcsik said.
Originally published October 14, 2019.