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Jeannette department offers free smoke detectors

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 9:18 p.m.
Jeannette Fire Chief Joe Matijevic poses for a photo with the Dunmire girls — two sets of twins, Miniah and Talyah, 6, and Alora and Bryona, 10. Matijevic installed a new smoke detector in the family's home on Christmas Day. John Howard | The Jeannette Spirit

The City of Jeannette Fire Department has offered free smoke detectors to families in need and elderly residents for more than 20 years.

Fire Chief Joe Matijevic, who spent part of his Christmas Day shift last month installing detectors in the community, said the department will also check and change smoke detector batteries if an elderly resident is in need of help.

Each year as Matijevic enters the elementary and middle schools to present his fire prevention program, he comes armed with a form for parents to fill out with their children as they inspect their homes for fire risks.

“Each year I ask the kids ... to go home and be a fire inspector,” said Matijevic.

He sends the forms home with the children and asks them to return the completed papers to their teachers.

“It is a simple form asking if the family's household has any working smoke detectors in place,” said Matijevic. “Once the teachers collect all the forms, the principals at the elementary and middle schools inform me which students are in need or think they are in need.”

At that point, Matijevic contacts those families and sets up an appointment so he can visit the homes and install a free smoke detector.

The program is fully funded by donations received throughout the year by numerous citizens and businesses.

“No tax dollars are used to fund the program.”

This program is ongoing throughout the year.

“The kids are always excited to see a fireman at their house during the Christmas holiday,” he said. “The smoke detectors provide the kids and their families a sense of security if ever they are faced with the danger of fire in their homes.”

For more information, call the fire department's non-emergency number at 724-527-4021.

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 724-838-5154.