Program provides seniors smoke alarms

By ROBERT LINNEHAN | The Cherry Hill Sun

The Cherry Hill Fire Department, representatives from the township and Rep. John Adler unveiled Cherry Hill’s Community Smoke Alarm Initiative last week, a new program designed to distributed free smoke alarms to senior citizens.

Mayor Berne Platt was joined last week by Adler, Cherry Hill Fire Department Assistant Chief Tom Kolbe, Councilman and firefighter Jim Bannar and Councilwoman Jacquelene Silver to launch the program at the home of Irene Burke, a senior citizen of Cherry Hill.

Platt mentioned at the press conference that citizens’ 65 years of age and older are identified as an at-risk population, because they’re twice as likely to die if fire strikes their home.

“There is no question that smoke alarms save lives, and there is no question in my mind that this campaign will save lives in this community,” Platt said at the press conference.

A smoke detector was installed in Burke’s home thanks to the federal grant funding. The grant was in the amount of $85,000 and will fund a number of 10-year lithium powered smoke detectors to the senior citizen population of Cherry Hill.

Adler helped procure the grant for the township during his time in Washington, D.C., last April, according to township representatives. The funding will help pay for 5,000 smoke alarms for senior residents of Cherry Hill.

The Cherry Hill Fire Department also pledged $21,000 for local outreach and education on the importance of maintaining smoke detectors in the township, which is tantamount to the initiative, representatives said.

Following the press conference, Cherry Hill firefighters — led by Kolbe and Bannar — installed several of the smoke alarms for residents along Saddle Lane, where the event was held last Friday.

“It’s heartbreaking to have seen people in this community lose everything — or their lives — over what amounts to a small, reliable warning system,” Platt said at the conference. “This allotment could very well make the difference between life and death for senior citizens in the township who have the misfortune of facing a fire.”

Interested residents can contact the township at 665–6500 for more information about the initiative.