High demand leads to smoke alarm installation backlog

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WICHITA, Kan. -- The demand for smoke alarms is sky-high after a number of fatal house fires in the past few months in Wichita.

Wichita fire officers say they are doing their best to keep up but there is a backlog when it comes to their free smoke alarm installation program.

Right now, they have more than 200 households that have already requested a smoke alarm and are waiting for installation. To put that number in perspective, the fire department installed a total of 182 smoke alarms in 2012.

"We are receiving calls every day," said Clarence Moore, a public education officer for the Wichita Fire Department.

Moore is part of the team of officers who work to install the smoke alarms. He's been especially busy since the demand for smoke alarms rose drastically late last year after a house fire on N. Goebel St. left four people dead.

There are three officers, including Moore, to respond to the more than 200 requests already pending.

"We try to prioritize in terms of who has been on the list the longest," Moore said.

The other challenge is making sure the department has the smoke alarms it needs for all those installations. All the smoke alarms the department provides are made possible by donations.

Moore says it's hard to say what the current backlog means in terms of a wait time for installation. He says there are a number of factors including a homeowner's schedule that come into play that make each case unique.

What he can say is that he and the team are working as hard as they can, as fast as they can. They know how important smoke alarms are when it comes to saving lives.

"There are a lot of people on the list and that's a priority so we are definitely making the phone calls to get people scheduled," Moore said.

The family of Clifford Davis, the man who was killed in a house fire on W. Zimmerly last Saturday, has set up a fund in his honor. All donations will go to the fire department to help buy smoke alarms for those who need them.

You can donate to the fund by visiting any Emprise Bank location and asking for the Clifford Davis Memorial Fund.

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