If ACFD is knocking at the door or ringing the bell, do yourself a favor and let them in.
Teams of on-duty Arlington County firefighters in uniform have been canvassing neighborhoods on Saturdays since June, offering smoke alarm inspections, new batteries and even brand-new devices when needed. All free.
Previously the Fire Department installed smoke alarms on request but few homeowners took advantage. The new door-to-door approach took hold after three recent massive house fires left a total of five people dead. In follow-ups, the department found that many neighboring homes lacked working smoke detectors or never had ones installed.
The goal of firefighters is to visit every single family home and townhouse in the County, estimated at just under 40,000. Smoke alarms are required in all residences. In rentals, the landlord is responsible for maintaining working alarms but tenants must take care of the batteries.
The canvassing will continue through Oct. 3 and resume in April. You can still request a free smoke alarm and its installation through the department’s Operation Firesafe.
So far firefighter teams have visited 5303 homes, installed 784 smoke alarms and replaced 156 batteries. Of residences visited, 219 were without detectors of any kind.
ACFD has now applied for an Assistance to Firefighters grant to purchase in bulk alarms fitted with lithium batteries built to last 10 years. The American Red Cross has donated 300 of the extended-life devices to the program.
When average store-bought batteries are powering smoke detectors, fire officials say to change them twice a year. The easiest times to remember are when clocks lose or gain an hour. This fall clocks turn back on Sunday, Nov. 1 and next spring they move ahead on Sunday, March 13.