From the Times Herald By Oscar Gamble



NORRISTOWN >> The Norristown Fire Department teamed up with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 and other electricians Saturday afternoon to distribute smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to the residents in the 800 to 1200 blocks of West Airy Street.


The “smoke detector blitz” is a partnership between the department and the electricians to enhance fire safety by tackling the problem of inoperable or nonexistent smoke alarms. About 50 volunteers went door-to-door and asked residents if they had working smoke detectors. In the event that they did not, new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors ―and fresh batteries, if needed ― were provided for them.


The volunteers filed into the Hancock Firehouse on West Airy Street and began assembling the detectors and lining up supplies before fanning out into neighborhood.


“We have been doing volunteer work for the city of Philadelphia for as long as I can remember,” said Local 98 counsel Tara Chupka. “And we’re so excited to be doing this volunteer work in other parts of the state of Pennsylvania.


“Today we have with us over 30 members of the IBEW from throughout the Third District, which includes New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, and we’re here today to spend our time in the community and to make sure that people are safe in their houses; to answer their questions and to help them out in any way we can.”


According to Norristown Fire Chief Thomas O’Donnell, the smoke detector blitz originated several years ago when representatives from IBEW contacted the department and expressed a desire to use some of their resources to aid the community.


“The IBEW stepped up big time and procured more than 300 smoke detectors, ladders, double sided tape ― all the supplies we needed to make this operation successful,” O’Donnell said. “We take their members and our members and go out and saturate the neighborhood to make sure every home has working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every level.


“The reason why we chose this neighborhood is because we had a fire recently in the 900 block of West Airy and this is a neighborhood we haven’t hit yet.


“Thousands of lives are lost each year because of homes with no smoke detectors or smoke detectors that aren’t working. Early detection is the key and our goal is to leave the neighborhood better than we found it with the hope of saving lives. It’s a really successful campaign and we’re really proud of it.”


View a photo gallery of the “Blitz” at