VAN WERT COUNTY, Ohio (WANE) – School is almost back in session and volunteer firefighters in Van Wert County want to send students home with something other than homework this school year. Firefighters are in the process of raising money to buy long-lasting smoke detectors for every K-12 student in the county.
The program is called, “No Child Sleeps Unprotected.”
Chris High, a firefighter with the Wren Volunteer Fire Department, told NewsChannel 15 that the program began in the spring. Firefighters from all seven of the county’s volunteer fire departments have been collecting money and donations to help purchase the smoke detectors.
The original goal was to pass them out to students on their first day of school. However, firefighters have only raised approximately $20,000 of the nearly $60,000 needed. Some schools begin the school year on Aug. 25.
High said he and the other firefighters haven’t given up yet and the new target date is to give the smoke detectors out sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“Any time you can partner with any safety organization, in this case the fire department, it’s a win-win situation,” Kevin Gehres, the Van Wert Elementary Principal, said. “First and foremost, we try to protect the kids. Safety first. So that partnership was a natural alliance between the two organizations.”
Gehres said the smoke detectors could be a real asset for many homes in his district.
“We have over 50 percent of our students that come from that low socio-economic setting,” Gehres said. “So it’s important to reach out and help provide those things.”
The smoke detectors will be tamperproof and have a 10-year battery life.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2007 and 2011, three-out-of-five fire deaths resulted from fires in homes without a working smoke detector.
Anyone interested in making a contribution can visit the following fire departments:
- Wren Volunteer Fire Department
- Willshire Volunteer Fire Department
- Ohio City Volunteer Fire Department
- Convoy Volunteer Fire Department
- Van Wert Volunteer Fire Department
- Middle Point Volunteer Fire Department
- Scott Volunteer Fire Department
Checks should be made out to the Van Wert County Foundation and note that the donation is for the smoke detector fund.