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Agencies donate 50 smoke detectors

A fire in Richland that cost eight people their lives prompted local business owner Jim Caldwell to take action. Caldwell, president of the Caldwell Agency, said he wrote to "his friends" and asked for their help. Polly Fountain of Mid-State Mutual and Steve Schaeffler of Kemper insurance companies came through in a big way.

Fountain and Schaeffler contributed 50 smoke detectors for Caldwell to distribute where needed.

"It was Jim's project and he asked us to support it," Fountain said. "We were happy to."

The first thing Caldwell did was contact the town of Richland with the news that he had 10 smoke detectors, with batteries included, for the community.

"I hope they can get to people who need a smoke detector," Caldwell said. "It can make homes a little saver."

After reading a story where firefighters found batteries removed from a smoke detector in a home that two people died in, Caldwell contacted local fire departments to distribute the remaining 40 detectors.

{Q}"The firefighter was near tears, going into buildings with no smoke detectors," Caldwell said. "He was worried about the kids." {Q}

With the help of Lenox Codes Enforcement Officer Rick Stagnitti, Canastota, Lincoln, Wampsville and Sylvan Beach fire departments also received 10 smoke detectors.

Canastota firefighter and fire prevention Officer Chris Hannan said smoke detectors are often misplaced in the home and are triggered by household appliances.

"It goes off all the time so people take the batteries out," Hannan said.

"They should be placed in the hallway going to bedrooms, atop of the stairs if you live in a two story home and in the basement stairway," said Chris Carrier, firefighter for Wampsville.

Robert Stedman, firefighter from Lincoln added that smoke detectors should be installed one-foot from the wall and more toward the center of the room.

"They should also be kept away from the bathroom door and the kitchen stove," Stagnitti said. Steam from the bathroom and even heat from a toaster can be detected, sounding the alarm.

Hannan also wanted to remind the public that the batteries in smoke detectors should be checked at least twice a year; most commonly remembered times are when the clocks are moved ahead or set back one hour.

To find out how to receive a free smoke detector, contact your local village or town offices or fire department.

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