Fort Worth Fire Battling Lack of Smoke Detectors in City

Saturday operation is intended to raise awareness across the city

Are you safe from a house fire? The Fort Worth Fire Department is concerned many of Cowtown's citizens aren't.

There have already been six fire fatalities in Fort Worth this year, where smoke detectors weren't working or installed. Now there's a city-wide campaign, Operation Installation, aimed at getting more people protected.

On the evening of Friday, Jan. 3, Fort Worth Fire responded to the 1200 block of East Baltimore Avenue.

"We're still coping with it, it's just a bitter pill to swallow," said Lilly Davis-Taylor. "There was only three of us, him, me and my sister."

Taylor's brother, Larry Ray Davis, died that night, in part because if he had smoke detectors they weren't working.

"No I don't believe they were, I really don't," Taylor said.

Four months later, they hope to rebuild the family home and continue to look out for themselves.

"I check them all the time," Taylor said. "I live in an apartment and I go around with a broom hitting the thing to make sure the sound alarm goes off."

The city fire department hopes more of those alarms will be installed and go off with the help of this weekend's smoke detector effort.

"A simple device, inexpensive, a life saver," said Tim Hardeman, a Fort Worth Fire engineer and spokesperson.

Hardeman said working smoke detectors have saved at least 11 lives this year already.

"And just that early bit of warning can help you get out safely," he said.

Fort Worth Fire found 50 to 60 percent of homes didn't have working detectors earlier this year when canvassing neighborhoods near fatal fire locations.

On Saturday, fire crews from each station across the city will go door-to-door in select neighborhoods to install detectors and batteries for free. The canvassing will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but crews will be on duty and may have to respond to calls.

The effort isn't entirely free though. Hardeman says the department's budget is limited so they rely heavily on the public's donations to offer the free smoke detectors. Assisting this weekend's efforts are African-American Firefighters Reaching Out (AAFRO), Cutting Edge Haunted House, Fort Worth Firefighter Charities, Kidde Fire Safety USA and  XTO Energy.

While the drive is too late for Larry Ray Davis, his sister hopes more people will take advantage of the offer.

"We miss him dearly," she said. "It's just a tragedy for everyone who had a fire this year."

If fire crews don't visit your home you can call the fire department to set up an appointment by calling the department's public education coordinator at 817-392-6862 or CLICK HERE.

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