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Fairfax firefighters offer free smoke detector service

Saturday - 3/10/2012, 7:18pm  ET

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Fairfax County firefighters are going door to door this weekend checking for working smoke detectors. (WTOP Photo/Kathy Stewart)

Kathy Stewart, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - It's estimated that one-third of smoke detectors in homes have dead or missing batteries. That's why as we spring ahead, Fairfax County firefighters are going door-to-door this weekend checking for working smoke detectors. They are replacing batteries and installing new smoke alarms for free.

The firefighters are fanning out across the county zeroing in on certain at-risk neighborhoods such as communities with older homes and trailer parks.

The county is giving out or installing 1,000 smoke detectors and 250 carbon monoxide detectors, Fairfax Fire and Rescue spokesman Capt. Willie Bailey said.

On Saturday morning, a team of firefighters from Station 19 in Lorton knocked on doors at the Newington Station townhouse community in Fairfax.

Capt. Marty Ranck greeted home owner Habibullah Sekandari:

"Hi how are you? You live here?"

The captain then told the resident how firefighters are doing their bi-annual canvassing of smoke detectors.

"If they don't work, we'd be more than happy to install or replace the batteries," he said.

Sekandari thanked the captain several times for coming out and caring about the community's safety.

In 2011, there were no fire fatalities in Fairfax for the first time in the department's 62-year history. Firefighters want it to stay that way.

Residents in need of a smoke detector and can't afford one should call their local fire station.

Bailey says as firefighters are installing new smoke alarms they are talking to the families about a fire escape plan. Working smoke detectors more than double a person's chances of surviving a house fire.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)