Brenda L. Swecker, developer of The Smoke Detector program, recently announced completion of the program's 12th year of distribution.
The program was developed in 2000 by Swecker, a 20-year veteran firefighter. The first distribution was at George Ward Elementary School. Thirty smoke detectors were distributed to students completing kindergarten during an end-of-the-year ceremony at the school.
In 2004, the program expanded to include Valley Head Elementary kindergarten students. As another phase of the same expansion, George Ward Elementary School fifth-grade students received a fire extinguisher at the end of the same school year. In 2006, another expansion was completed when the program incorporated Homestead Elementary and Pickens School into the year-end distribution program.
This year, the program distributed 42 smoke detectors to kindergarten students from George Ward Elementary, Homestead Elementary, Valley Head Elementary and Pickens School. The program also distributed 48 fire extinguishers to students who completed the fifth grade at these schools.
Since its inception in 2000, the program has distributed a total of 472 smoke detectors and 314 fire extinguishers free to area children.
This year's distribution was completely funded through a grant from the Snowshoe Foundation. The Snowshoe Foundation has been the sole sponsor for this program for several years.
Even though the Smoke Detector Program operates through the Valley Head Volunteer Fire Department, it relies solely on grant monies from outside sources and does not receive any funding from the local fire department.
Families are encouraged to perform basic maintenance on their detectors by changing the batteries as recommended, periodically checking the charge status of their fire extinguishers and performing fire escape drills with their children.