Going door to door to sell safety

Fires over the last several years in homes found not to have smoke detectors in the Town of Quantico has firefighters going door to door among the town’s 300 residences this month to give free installations.

“It’s gone real smooth,” said Sgt. Christina Martin, who heads up the program. “Most people don’t realize you can get a free detector from the fire department.”

To do the job, the Dumfries-Triangle Volunteer Fire Department parked the county’s mobile fire command center on Potomac Avenue on Saturday, put up a table on the sidewalk with information, and sent firefighters door to door.

And yes, the mobile command center has smoke detectors installed. Inside, Lt. Patricia Spitler was on the radio with the mobile teams marking down progress because the teams would be out again the next two weekends to hit homes they missed or where no one answered.

The county fire association has taken a proactive approach in the last several years, targeting a trailer park on Va. 234 and Williamstown.

Quantico has some of the oldest structures in the county, making fire hazards a concern.

For liability reasons, firefighters cannot hand out the smoke detectors. They must install them.

On Saturday, Martin said they installed about 40 detectors and checked on the status of others when residents allowed them in. Sometimes people will decline, but as they found at least once on Saturday, when they began to walk away, the resident reconsidered and invited them in. In that case, new batteries were needed for two of the home’s three detectors, Martin said.

The Dumfries-Triangle department installs detectors that retail for $8, paid for through bingo proceeds. Chief Miles Young said the command center makes their job much more efficient because pedestrians on the street can stop by the unit and ask for information and firefighters are easily monitored as they walk to hundreds of houses, he said.

Persons who want a free detector installation at their privately-owned residence can call Martin at the station (703) 221-4242 or Quantico Marine Corps Base Fire Department Assistant Chief Danny Null at (703) 784-0146.