For Cartersville Home Depot Manager Matt Sellers, being able to help provide smoke alarms for the community means a lot more than most corporate donations.
“This is huge. This is probably one of the biggest donations I’ve ever been a part of and I’m thankful to work for a company that values giving back to communities,” Sellers said. “We’re donating them to the fire department and, in turn, they will be giving them to local residents that do not have smoke detectors, and this is just a great opportunity to make homes safer.
“It’s really unfortunate how many home fires there are and how many people are affected by those. To just be a part of possibly saving a life or helping a family get out of their home without injury — that’s priceless.”
Sellers’ remarks about smoke alarms and their ability to save lives are supported by data from the National Fire Protection Association. As of 2008, NFPA found that smoke alarms reduced the risk of dying in a fire by half.
In the same study, it was found that no alarms were present in 40 percent of reported home fire deaths in the U.S. Of all reported home fires where an alarm was present, another 23 percent of deaths occurred when the alarm did not sound.
Each year, the Cartersville Fire Department hands out smoke alarms to families in need. Due to budgetary restraints, this program has existed as only a small outreach. Cartersville Fire Marshal Mark Hathaway described how the current program will expand due to the recent donation.
“It’s fantastic. I’d say we give out about 100 a year and we were buying them ourselves,” Hathaway said. “So this is going to give us the opportunity to really help a much larger number of people.
“With this large of a donation, we’ll be looking at expanding our program. We may have a day where we host an event to reach people that need smoke alarms.”
The Cartersville Home Depot store donated the smoke alarms during a ceremony Saturday after winning a corporate contest within their region. The local Home Depot was in competition with 122 stores throughout the Southeast, including stores in parts of Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
“As a company, Home Depot is donating 50,000 smoke alarms throughout the country,” Sellers said. “So through an internal competition, we sold the most smoke alarms and won 2,500 smoke alarms to donate to our local fire department.”
The donation was made in partnership with Kidde, a smoke alarm manufacturer. The alarms donated are 10-year, sealed-battery smoke alarms and require little maintenance over the course of their 10-year lifespan.
With a sealed battery, the donated alarms will also provide safety measures against a dangerous mistake made too often by home owners. The 2008 NFPA study also found that in more than half of home fires where an alarm was present but did not operate, batteries had either been removed or disconnected. The leading reason given for batteries being removed or disconnected was nuisance.