November 1, 2018 - To raise awareness about campus and community fire safety, the Fort Wayne Fire Department (FWFD) and the University of Saint Francis (USF) are partnering with First Alert, the most trusted brand in home safety*, along with Campus Firewatch and the Michael H. Minger Foundation, to participate in the Town/Gown Fire Safety Community Service Project. The local Town/Gown Fire Safety Project will be conducting neighborhood blitzes on November 10 from 10:00 am-2:00 pm throughout Fort Wayne, and on an ongoing basis to distribute alarms until supplies are depleted. Students and residents at-large will be able to learn the importance of fire safety and work alongside firefighters to properly equip homes with smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.

As part of the Town/Gown Fire Safety Community Service Project, the Fort Wayne Fire Department was chosen along with 24 other departments to host community events nationwide. Students will work alongside firefighters to conduct home safety visits and install the 2,500 smoke and CO alarms donated by First Alert in at-risk communities across the country during the fall semester.

“We are grateful for the support and resources provided by First Alert, Campus Firewatch and the Michael H. Minger Foundation to educate the community and students about fire safety and to properly equip homes with smoke and CO alarms,” said Captain Dave Meadows of the FWFD. “Ensuring everyone in our community has adequate protection from preventable incidents – such as home fires – helps us save lives.”

“It is a great opportunity for our students to better understand the importance of life safety devices in the home and in off-campus housing.” said Dr. Amy Obringer of the USF Pre-Professional Healthcare Club “It also allows the students to physically get into at-risk neighborhoods with the FWFD and teach families of our community the importance of planning for a fire emergency.” 

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a fire is reported every 24 seconds on average across the country and fire departments responded to 1.3 million fires in 2016. Three of every five home fire deaths result from fires in homes without smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms according to the NFPA. In fires where a smoke alarm was present, but did not operate, half of the alarms had missing or disconnected batteries.

“The Town/Gown Project promotes fire safety education and collaboration between students, fire departments, universities and their surrounding communities,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert. “By partnering with Campus Firewatch and the Michael H. Minger Foundation, we are positively impacting the long-term safety for both the students and communities.”

“By helping to install alarms in at-risk homes throughout their communities, the students see first-hand the importance of working smoke and CO alarms,” said Ed Comeau, founder of Campus Firewatch. “They are learning fire safety by doing fire safety, and making their communities safer at the same time.”

“Teaching simple steps about fire safety paired with community outreach can not only help prevent tragedies, but also improve the well-being of the community as a whole,” said Gail Minger, president of the Michael H. Minger Foundation. “We are thrilled to offer students this unique volunteer opportunity through the Town/Gown Fire Safety Community Service Project.”

Home Safety Advice for All

Due to the contents in today’s homes, fires burn faster and hotter. According to Underwriters Laboratories, a house fire can become uncontrollable in less than three minutes. To ensure the highest level of protection from fire, First Alert recommends following the guidelines set by the U.S. Fire Administration and the NFPA, which advise that homes have smoke alarms installed inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Most fatal fires happen at night, and this will provide the occupants with the much-needed early warning to get out before they are trapped. For CO alarms, homes should have at least one alarm on each level and one in or near every bedroom.

Once alarms are installed, it is important to maintain them. Smoke and CO alarms don’t last forever and should be replaced every 7-10 years. Alarms should be tested regularly and if the alarm has batteries, they should be replaced at least every six months. It is also important to plan an emergency escape route and practice it at least twice a year, so in the event of an emergency everyone knows how to get out of the home safely and where to meet.

To learn more about fire safety, visit the First Alert website at, the Campus Firewatch website at , the Michael H. Minger Foundation at, and the FWFD website at You also can follow the Town/Gown Fire Safety Community Service Project on Twitter and Facebook via #TownGownFire.