PACIFIC GROVE, CA - In 1991, the Pacific Grove Fire Department experienced a firerelated death of an elderly resident who did not have an operable smoke detector in her residence. As a result of this tragedy, the Pacific Grove Fire Department initiated Operation Smoke Alarm. Their goal is to prevent future fire fatalities and property loss associated with fires by ensuring every household has an operating smoke detector.
Local service clubs joined fire personnel and canvassed the entire City to identify those households without smoke detectors. The project surveyed over 5,000 single-family homes within the City, making sure there was at least one working smoke detector per household. Survey results revealed 34 percent of the homes did not have a smoke detector while 9 percent of the homes had inoperable smoke detectors.
The local Rotary Club donated smoke detectors and batteries that were given out during this first campaign. The project continues and smoke detectors and batteries are supplied free of charge to those in need. The project is funded through public donations and the fire prevention budget.
Pacific Grove has a large elderly population and they have become faithful “return customers.” Residents who have benefited from the program either visit the Fire Department or call twice a year to have their smoke detector batteries changed.
Since the project began and operable smoke detectors have been successfully placed in homes, small fires have been detected and extinguished early, thus, preventing loss of life and significant property damage.