Kiwanis, Fire Department Team Up in Detection Effort

By Marg Jackson /  Editor

April 19, 2007

Smoke detectors. will be a little easier to come by in Escalon soon with the local Kiwanis Club donating $500 to the Escalon Fire Department to purchase the potentially life-saving devices.

"This was a partnership we wanted to become apart of," explained Kiwanis Club President Mike Berhorst.  "The fire department wanted to do this program, to help insure all homes in Escalon have an up to code fire detector."

Fire Chief Rick Mello accepted the $500 donation at a recent meeting of the Kiwanis Club and Berhorst also made a visit to the fire station to view the type of detector that will be purchased with the money. "We find them for around $10 so this will allow us to purchase about 50 of them," Mello said of getting detector program started. " We are hoping to start with the senior community, go to Paddack Manor and Heritage House."

Through the program, the department will check to see if residents have an operating smoke detector.  If not, one can be installed by the fire department personnelWe also want to do an annual battery replacement each year in October, during fire prevention week, "Mello noted. "  And if there are elderly or those unable to put up or check their smoke detectors, call us and we will provide them with the assistance."  The department can be reached at 838-7500.
Mello said several structure fires within the city - including one that involved a fatality in January - prompted officials to get the smoke detector program moving.  In some of the fires, he said, officials found that detectors installed in the homes were either not installed properly or not activating. The annual battery replacement will help in that regard, he said, and the goal is to make sure all homes in the city are equipped with working detectors.

"There was a rash of fatalities and fires in the Valley from a period of December through February," Mello added. "Many of those had disabled smoke detectors or inoperable ones, with no batteries."

Berhorst said the Kiwanis Club was happy to step in and lend some assistance. "We just felt $500 was something we could do," he said. "It was important for us to go into this partnership."

The club is also involved in the community in a number of ways throughout the year, from Christmas in the Park to Park Fete, sponsoring needy families at Christmas, sending shoes to the Philippines and more. "Our crab feed is our real money maker," Berhorst added. "This year, we can give six scholarships to Escalon High School seniors.  Our whole idea is to raise money and put it all back into the community,"

Mello said the department is pleased with the new partnership with Kiwanis and grateful for all the Community support.  "This is our second community partnership," he pointed out. "The Rotary Club partnered with us on our blue reflective address sign program and which has been active for several months."

Through that program, residents of the city can purchase the bright blue reflective signs that will show their street address. Available at a cost of $15, the department will also install the signs. They are designed to aid emergency response crews in finding addresses and are available by contacting the fire department.

Escalon firefighter Jesse Miquel, at left, shows one of the new smoke detectors the department is purchasing while Mike Berhost, center, provides a check to Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello to help purchase the detectors. Berhost is president of the Kiwanis Club, which made a $500 donation to the department.  (Photo by Marg Jackson, Escalon Times)