Fire departments and school team up to make community safer

SILVER CREEK – Fire prevention starts at home. That is what Silver Creek Fire Chief Jim Tyka Jr. was thinking when he asked elementary school students if they have smoke detectors in their homes during Fire Prevention Week last October.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website, more than 2,500 people in the U.S die in house fires each year.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2003-2006, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. No smoke alarms were present in 40 percent of the home fire deaths and in 23 percent of the home fire deaths, smoke alarms were present, but did not sound.

“Our late Chief Rich Bartlett passed the responsibility of doing the Fire Prevention Week program to me and I take it very seriously,” he said. “It is important to start young and to keep the message fresh, because some of the kids have heard all this stuff before.”

Tyka decided to ask students if they have smoke detectors in their homes. Many students raised their hands, so a letter was sent home with students asking their parents to confirm that they had no smoke alarms in their home.

Tyka said he received 52 confirmations. Tyka partnered with the other fire departments that protect the Silver Creek School District and the Chautauqua County Emergency Services Department to raise money for the smoke alarms for those families.

“Each department donated $100 and Home Depot donated a $50 gift card in order for us to get the smoke detectors,” Tyka said.

At a recent school board meeting Tyka along with Sunset Bay Fire Chief Rob Weiskerger, Irving Fire Chief Gerry Rice, Hanover Center Fire Chief Steve D’Angelo and Sheridan Fire Chief Aaron Brinkman and County Deputy Fire Coordinator Bob Frank (absent was Cattaraugus Indian Reservation Fire Chief Presley Redeye) gathered to give the donation to Elementary School Principal Scott Rudnicki.

Rudnicki said he will make sure the students receive the smoke alarms.