FOLEY – More than 200 Foley residents are living in safer homes after the start of a program to install smoke detectors in the city.

The Foley Fire Department, American Red Cross and members of a local church distributed and installed smoke detectors in the Beulah Heights community Saturday, March 2. 

Foley Fire Chief Joey Darby said the program is part of the Red Cross national “Sound the Alarm” campaign intended to get smoke detectors into homes.

“Saturday was our first effort,” Darby said. “It was the first day of hopefully many to come. We focused on Beulah Heights, because we’ve had some fires over there. We had one in particular last year. And there’s been some tragedy in Beulah Heights going way back long before my time.”

Darby said many residents in the area do not speak English. Members of the local church, IMP Jesucristo Es El Camino, worked with firefighters and Red Cross members to talk to residents about the program and convince them to have the smoke detectors installed.

“They were a huge help in that many of our contacts were with residents who only speak Spanish,” Darby said. “Our Hispanic community continues to grow and there are certain areas in Beulah Heights that are predominantly Hispanic areas that don’t speak English at all. They were great partners to really help us get out and educate the public about what we were doing.”

Darby said program participants installed 99 smoke alarms in 52 homes where 227 residents live. As part of the program, the devices were installed in the homes and not just given to residents.

“Day one was a big success. And we’re going to continue that effort with the Red Cross to continue not only Beulah Heights, but we’re already talking about other areas of town that we’re going to work through,” Darby said

The program is intended to ensure that homes have functioning smoke detectors.

“Working smoke alarms save lives. The key word there is working smoke alarms,” Darby said. “ A lot of places have one, but they don’t work. It was quite interesting and, unfortunately, somewhat alarming for us to see the number of residents that didn’t have them at all. Educating those folks was extremely important, and we’re gonna continue to work on that.”