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updated: 11/19/2013 5:58 PM

Arlington Hts. launches smoke detector program in wake of fatal fire

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Arlington Heights this week announced a new initiative to help residents make sure they have working smoke detectors in their homes.

The program -- named "Project Katie" after a relative of Trustee Joe Farwell who died in a fire in the 1970s -- comes a few weeks after a fire killed three women in an Arlington Heights home where there was an inoperable smoke detector.

"Too many of these battery-operated life savers are not checked on a regular basis for proper operation," Farwell said. "Too often batteries go unchanged after their useful life and too often lives are lost because people are unwilling or unable to check their smoke detectors for proper installation and operation."

Farwell said going forward he wants all Arlington Heights residents to have a zero tolerance for inoperative smoke detectors.

"There is no reason why an installed smoke detector should not be operating," he said.

Farwell encourages all residents to check their smoke detectors on a regular basis and replace the detectors every ten years.

The village will be coordinating a group of volunteers made up of residents and high school students who will be trained on how to check smoke detectors, Farwell said. The second Saturday of every month, starting in December, the group will go to homes of residents who have requested a smoke detector check and perform the service for free. The village already has about 100 batteries to get the program started and is taking more through donations.

"We want to put the buzz back into every detector here in Arlington Heights. We want to make fire safety easy," Farwell said.

Interested volunteers or residents looking to get their smoke detectors checked through the program can contact Nancy Kluz, the village's community relations coordinator, at (847) 368-5104.

The program launch comes after a Nov. 6 fire in the 300 block of South Dunton Avenue killed homeowner Doris Miller, 93, her caretaker Tetiana Krych, 62, and the caretaker's daughter, Svitana Kandelis, 40.

The fire went unnoticed because of an inoperable smoke detector until officers at the nearby Arlington Heights police station smelled the smoke from a few blocks away. All three deaths were ruled accidental.

"This is a very fine example of something good that can come out of something very bad," Village President Tom Hayes said.

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