firefighters standing beside a fire truck

Smoke Detectors Installed by RFD Played Key Role in Preventing Tragedy

Smoke detectors provided by the Raleigh Fire Department proved their value only two months after installation. The detectors recently gave an early warning to the people in a downtown Raleigh residence, allowing them to help extinguish a fire before it became overwhelming.

At the end of October 2020, Raleigh Fire Department’s B-Platoon installed 25 smoke detectors in residences on Alston and East Cabarrus streets for free as part of its community outreach efforts (“canvassing,” as RFD calls is). Firefighters met with residents and discussed the importance of smoke detectors. 

In the late evening of Dec. 30, 2020, one of those residences had a structure fire. The smoke detectors played a crucial role in warning the residents, potentially saving lives.

“I remember our visit to that home and feeling that we established a good rapport with the residents. After our discussion, we installed two smoke detectors in the home,” said Phillip Walters, fire captain. 

‘Simply Wonderful’ to Hear about Positive Impact
Julio Mercado, fire lieutenant, found out about the late-December fire during a shift change the following morning. “It was simply wonderful to realize that our campaign had a positive impact on a family in our community,” he said.

RFD wanted to share the story to show “how the little things can make a big difference in people's lives,” Walters said.

“Community outreach is an important part of the service we provide to residents. Canvassing our territory gives us a chance to meet with residents, answer any questions they have, help with any life safety concerns, and break any barriers they may have with the fire department.”

RFD uses past fire incident data to create maps and identify high-risk areas where canvassing should occur first.  With this data, the Education Team and the local fire companies go door to door and educate residents. Engine 3 was canvassing East Cabarrus and Alston streets since it had identified them as a high-risk area. 

John Fanning, fire marshal, emphasized the importance of this type of work. “The biggest difference we firefighters can make in the lives of others occurs long before the first fire line is pulled. We want to make a difference before there is loss of property and or life,” he said.