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Springhill firefighters giving peace of mind for families

Lt. Cathy Spence of the Springhill Fire Department looks over some of the smoke detectors the firefighters association has purchased for Springhill elementary students. The association has purchased 325 smoke detectors. Darrell Cole/Municipality of the County of Cumberland

SPRINGHILL – Every child attending elementary school in Springhill will soon have a little peace of mind to bring home.

Members of the Springhill Fire Department’s association have raised more than $3,500 to purchase enough smoke detectors for every child attending one of the two elementary schools in the community.

Lt. Cathy Spence said it’s good to see some good come out of something so tragic after a Feb. 22 fire in Auburndale took the life of a mother and three children – ages eight, nine and 11.

After seeing the Wolfville and New Germany fire departments give more than 600 smoke detectors to children in the Annapolis Valley and the Shinimicas Fire Department do the same she felt Springhill’s fire department needed to do the same.

“When I saw what was done in the Valley and then with another fire department closer to us I started doing some research on it and come to the conclusion we could do that too,” Spence said. “Back in May, I went to the association about it and they got behind it. The association is great at standing behind its community and this is another way to do that.”

Spence said the Southampton Fire Department came to the hall for a pancake Mother’s Day breakfast and helped serve, cook and clean with $1,000 being raised. Foodland in Springhill partnered on a barbecue that raised another $415. Sugar Clouds Cotton Candy raised $85 during another barbecue while a community Facebook fundraising charity page, run by Amanda and Janet Laurie, paid the remaining $1,265.

“This is about making sure everyone has a smoke detector. It would surprise you how many people don’t have smoke detectors in their homes,” Spence said. “It’s also about raising awareness about what a smoke detector does and how it can help you.”

Spence hopes getting a smoke detector will also help children know what to do when they hear one go off and how each family needs a plan should there be a fire in their residence.

“We want to remove those barriers preventing families from having essential fire prevention tools,” Spence said. “We also want to bring some peace of mind to families when hearing stories about things like the fire in Auburndale.

“We believe that even if one life can be saved by this initiative, we will have truly honoured the memories of those who were lost. Life can be busy and it can be expense, but it shouldn’t be too expensive to save a life.”

Working with D&J Home Hardware, work secured the detectors at cost, 300 smoke detectors were purchased while AARtech supplied an additional 25 detectors.

During Fire Prevention Week in October (Oct. 9 to 15), more than 280 detectors will be given to Pre-Primary to Grade 6 students at Junction Road Elementary and West End-Memorial Elementary School.If there are other children in the Springhill area who don’t attend either of the two schools, their parents can contact the fire department about getting a smoke detector.

Bill Ireland, the Municipality of Cumberland’s director of protective services, appreciates the work being done in communities across the county by volunteer firefighters.

“Our volunteer firefighters serve the community in a variety of ways, but there is no greater impact they can have than ensuring your home is protected with a properly functioning smoke alarm,” Ireland said. “Research has shown that if every home had working smoke alarms, residential fire fatalities could drop by 36 per cent.

“It is very concerning to me that the recently completed fire services review found that only 60 per cent of Cumberland County homes that we have responded to in the past five years were equipped with a working smoke alarm. Kudos to the Springhill and Shinimicas fire departments for their initiative and commitment to helping keep residents safe.”

Ireland said working smoke detectors are a must in every home. He said it’s important for families to check smoke alarms once a month and to replace the batteries every six months or when it’s time to change the clocks for daylight savings.

Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years.

Ireland said newer homes are built quickly and with lightweight materials. Because of that, fires tend to spread faster in modern homes than compared to residences built in the 70s, 80s and 90s.It’s also recommended that smoke detectors be installed on every floor, at the bare minimum. Ideally, they should be in each bedroom. Better still, would be to have electrically-wired smoke detectors throughout the house.