Milwaukee firefighters hope to curb fire deaths by installing free smoke alarms

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by Marshanna Hester

MILWAUKEE - It's a door-to-door campaign to save lives, Project F.O.C.U.S.


It stands for "Firefighters Out Creating Urban Safety."


Milwaukee firefighters get out of the firehouse and into the community installing smoke detectors for free.


CBS 58 followed a team of firefighters with Engine Company 31 Monday afternoon on the south side.


The first home they knocked on did not have a working smoke detector.


So they installed one with a 10-year battery, made sure it's working and gave the resident additional fire safety tips.


Project F.O.C.U.S. is a joint initiative with the city.


Officials hope to reach 9,000 homes this year in areas with a high number of calls and where families can't afford them.


"Most of the time these men and women in our fire trucks will be at your home three to four minutes after you make that phone call," said Chief Mark Rohlfing, Milwaukee Fire Department. "Unfortunately, the way fire spreads, three to four minutes is sometimes too long for those individuals who don't have some kind of early warning system."


Fire Chief Rohlfing said so far this year, three people have died in house fire.


At least one of those homes didn't have a smoke detector.


The city recorded its lowest number of fire fatalities on record in 2013 with two deaths.


Milwaukee fire officials often stress how important smoke alarms are and how they can save lives by alerting residents of smoke and giving a life-saving window of time for occupants to make it out safely.


The National Fire Protection Association says the risk of dying in a house fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke detectors.


If you need a smoke alarm installed, call the Smoke Alarm Hotline at (414) 286-8980.

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