By Scott Sullivan
Grade school students are already making history. This called for ice cream Friday as safety leaders celebrated Douglas Elementary being the first such school in Michigan to complete the PressTo Test Challenge using social media to test home smoke alarms.
State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer, Rep. Mary Whiteford, Saugatuck Township Fire District and Douglas Police leaders honored kids for their fire expertise with frozen treats after lunch.
The #SPSPresstoTest Challenge began in December with STFD Chief Greg Janik and Deputy Chief Chris Mantels, who are teaching fire prevention and life safety education at the school, putting the new state program into gear. Their goal was to ensure every home in the Fire District has working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.
The PresstoTest Challenge partnered with parents, students and teachers to test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their homes. Kids and parents would video themselves together, pressing the button on their smoke alarms to test them, then upload the videos to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #SPSPresstoTest.
District parents who do not have these safety devices in their homes may contact the STFD by calling (269) 857-3000 or visiting http://www.saugatuckfire. org/smoke—co-alarm-request. html to install them free.
The local fire district’s efforts are a precursor to the statewide MI Prevention program offered through the state fire marshal, Bureau of Fire Services and more than 100 fire departments.
The installation of 21,384 smoke alarms and 6,455 carbon monoxide alarms obtained through a $525,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant that will be completed by Aug. 1.
Local and statewide community risk reduction programs are working to curb residential fires and fatalities in Michigan. In 2018, 139 Michiganders died in home fires.
Such fatalities are largely preventable by educating consumers on the lifesaving practice of having working smoke alarms and adopting smart fire safety behaviors.
Having working smoke alarms can double a family’s chance to escape and survive a home fire that can become deadly in less than three minutes, fire officials say.