New Kensington firehouses partnering with Red Cross to give out free smoke detectors

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Signs are staked in front of the firehouses in New Kensington, promoting a partnership with the Red Cross to get a free smoke detector.

”A lot of residents don’t understand the importance of the smoke detector. It’s the very first level of alertness and they do save lives,” New Kensington Fire Chief Ed Saliba said.

Saliba knows how crucial prevention is when it comes to flames and smoke moving through a home.

Two minutes makes the difference, and that’s why New Kensington is teaming up with the Red Cross to hand out smoke detectors to city residents, free of charge.

”Our code in the city of New Kensington requires a smoke detector on every level, and one in every sleeping room,” Saliba said.

New Kensington and neighboring Arnold fire departments are typically battling fires in each others’ backyards, and since March, they’ve had two deadly fires.

Saliba said he never heard the blaring sound of a smoke detector when they responded to a fire in March on Fourth Avenue, where a woman died.

”There were no smoke detectors sounding when I arrived on scene and I believe I was the second person on scene. That bothers me,” Saliba added.

Firefighters and volunteers with the Red Cross will be visiting neighborhoods with a history of fire calls.

”We’re going to concentrate on the Parnassus section, the Mount Vernon section and what we call ‘the hill,’ which is in the middle of the city.”

After the pandemic delayed the initiative by two years, the response has been overwhelming.

Saliba said 73 appointments have been set up so far to get a free smoke detector — the most ever in the state.

”The $10 smoke detector is worth its weight in platinum because it will save a life,” Saliba said.

Firefighters and volunteers with the Red Cross are going to be distributing and installing those smoke detectors on Saturday, both by appointment and door-to-door.