Deadly Shamokin fire expedites free smoke alarm distribution
SHAMOKIN - Last Tuesday's fire that claimed the life of 13-year-old Melissa "Missy" Pangburn and destroyed five houses on South Rock Street has prompted a joint effort by firefighters, police and code enforcement officials to provide homeowners with smoke alarms.
Deputy fire chief Jason Zimmerman, police chief Edward Griffiths, patrolman and fire investigator Raymond Siko II, code enforcement officer Rick Bozza and assistant code enforcement officer and battalion fire chief Bruce Rogers met Monday afternoon at City Hall to announce plans to distribute hundreds of smoke alarms to Shamokin residents that have been donated by WNEP-TV in Moosic and nationwide fire protection manufacturer Kidde through the annual Operation Save A Life campaign.
Shamokin Public Safety Director R. Craig Rhoades and Northumberland County Emergency Management Agency Director Steve Jeffery also are assisting.
Zimmerman, who is spearheading the project, said the tragic fire expedited the group's efforts to provide and install smoke detectors in as many homes as possible while supplies last. He said anyone in need of a smoke detector can call police at 570-648-5708 or the code enforcement office at 570-644-0876 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact also can be made through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Zimmerman, who also serves as county training coordinator for hazardous materials, said callers need to give their names, addresses and telephone numbers so volunteers can make arrangements to install the smoke detectors at their homes. He said students and teachers in the electrical and protective services programs at Northumberland County Career and Technology Center also are volunteering their services to install the detectors.
The goal is to provide two smoke detectors per household.
Zimmerman said homeowners must sign a waiver stating that the city isn't responsible for maintaining the smoke detectors once they are installed.
"I think this is a great idea," Griffiths said. "The tragic fire is still fresh in everyone's mind and providing smoke detectors in as many homes as possible will make the community safer."
Griffiths and Siko, who led the investigation into the Dec. 10 fire, said it is unknown at this point if Pangburn's home at 5 S. Rock St. was equipped with smoke detectors.
Since 2003, Kidde has donated more than 100,000 smoke alarms to Operation Save A Life. Visit their website for more information on how to keep your home safe from fire.
According to FEMA, more than 3,000 people are killed each year in fire and carbon monoxide poisoning incidents.