Council approves funding for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

By Brittney Everett
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer

Baltimore County resident who do not have proper smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors will soon be able to receive them under a plan adopted by the County Council Monday.

The council voted unanimously to appropriate a $589,048 federal grant that will used to purchase 20,000 combination smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-detectors over the next two years to be installed in homes throughout the county. As part of the grant program, the county will kick in $29,452, or 5 percent of the cost.

County Fire Chief Kyrle Preis told the council that the devices would be help save civilian and firefighters’ lives.

“This is a great opportunity for citizens of the county,” Preis said.  “In one year, we receive approximately 250 calls to a residence who are being affected by carbon monoxide and there are approximately 430 deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning per year in the United States.”

Preis said the units cost approximately $30 each and will be installed in low-income areas first. Once installed, the department said, the units are maintenance-free and last for 10 years.

“Unfortunately, low income families are more susceptible to being injured in a fire or carbon monoxide related incident because they don’t have the funds to obtain the proper equipment,” Preis said.

According to county documents, the fire department will use information collected from internal fire incident reports, the county’s Department of Economic and Workforce Development, and the U.S. Census to identify and target areas of high poverty and high risk for installation.

Fire officials will also canvass communities and identify residences that do not have smoke or carbon monoxide detectors and ask the residents in those home if they would like a unit installed. Residents can also call the department and request that a detector be placed in their home, county documents say.

In addition, firefighters may provide detectors to residents in need if they notice during an emergency call that the resident does not have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in their house or apartment.

The grant comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program – Fire Prevention and Safety Grant. The grant was awarded to the county in 2016 and officially appropriated this week. The program will take effect on Dec. 3.

County documents say that smaller investments by the county will be needed in the future to maintain the program should the department decide to continue installations after the life of the grant expires in August 2019.

In other action Monday:

  • The council approved a bill that authorizes the county to issue up to $600 million in general obligation bonds, part of which will be used to finance improvements to schools, public roads, bridges, sidewalks and storm drains, community colleges, parks, and the water and sewer system.
  • The council adopted a bill that prohibits parking along the so-called Horses and Hounds Scenic Byway along Monkton Road between York and Sheppard roads. The bill also increases the fine for illegal parking in that area from $50 to $130.


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