Project Survive a Fire Emergency (SAFE) began as a way to educate the public about the importance of smoke alarms and provide free installation of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in every room of Sparks residents’ houses. The project is just two months away from completing its third Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant, which has brought about 800 smoke alarms to Sparks homes since July 2012.
King said free weekend installations in September and October will likely eclipse and exceed the proposed FEMA grant installations and bring them closer to the department’s goal of 1,000 smoke alarms installed.
“All the proceeds we get (from fundraising) go right back into the community,” King said Tuesday, “Either to buying smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors or brochures and pamphlets as well as all the different fire hats for the kids and anything that goes along with fire safety.
“We currently have a fire safety trailer we are revamping with a kitchen, living room and bedroom inside it. You run kids through it to teach them about fire safety in all the rooms and they go out the window down a ladder, learning how to exit a second story. Some of the proceeds will help with upkeep of the trailer.”
Project SAFE initially targeted Sparks homes built before 1994, which King said were not equipped with smoke alarms in every room due to fire code. King said the fundraising golf tournament’s local title sponsors (Belfor Property Restoration, ABC Fire and Cylinder Service, Sims Metal Management) allow hundreds of smoke alarms to be purchased in the future, which will add to the more than 3,000 already stockpiled at Sparks Fire Department.
“We have done so well on the golf tournament that we have some money from that we can use to buy more when we need to,” King said. “It might be a couple years before we put in for another FEMA grant. We consider that a huge success, and after three years of applying for the grant, we will likely not need that help for a few years and that really shows how well the golf tournament and other fundraising has gone.”
King said the dry summer season has not been overly dangerous to Sparks thus far, but added that cautionary measures should be taken by all residents whether indoors or outdoors.
“In the City of Sparks, knock on wood, we have been really lucky so far,” he said. “We haven’t had very many wildland fires, and it has been hot and dry. It is always a worry of ours. It seems that a lot of the fires that happen in the brush or similar places are accidental and caused by people not realizing a small spark near the brush may start a fire.
“I still pinpoint cooking fires (as the most common indoor fire trigger) because even in the summer time, we still do a lot of cooking indoors. People do a lot of barbecuing outdoors in the summertime, but we also do a lot of gatherings during the summer time at our houses. You are doing cooking in both and when you have a lot of people over at your house, and you are doing a lot of cooking inside, you get a little careless and forget what is on the stove.”
King said the outlying areas in Spanish Springs, where cheatgrass and dry brush have been an area of concern, there is a growing number of target shooting fires. He said negligence to understand the sensitivity of surroundings has ignited about four fires this summer.
“Back in the hills in Spanish Springs, I hear people shooting up there all the time,” King said, “And it is legal and there is nothing saying they cannot shoot toward the hills. We have had three or four really good fires now that were started by shooting. The bullets hit either rocks, metal, targets. It is becoming even more evident in other places in the country. It starting to become a serious thing, especially right now.”
“What we try to tell people is if you are going to go out and do target shooting, then definitely go to a place where background is a hill with no brush on it. Be sure it is just dirt and make sure there is not brush anywhere near you.”
King said anyone wishing to schedule a smoke alarm installation can call the Sparks Fire Department at 353-2255 any time. He added that any resident who is unsure of how to use any fire extinguisher can call or stop by any fire station for information, which he feels is something vital for enduring any fire season.
“You see fire extinguishers all over the place, in every building you go to, but a lot of people wouldn’t have a second clue about how to use them — and you should because they are easy,” King said.