SLO Fire Department offers safety courses for seniors

acornejo@thetribunenews.comMay 1, 2014 

Firefighters respond to a house fire Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, in the 500 block of Al-Hil Drive in San Luis Obispo.


The San Luis Obispo City Fire Department is reaching out to seniors to offer safety courses and make sure their homes are equipped with working smoke detectors.

The city received a $101,536 grant from FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration in 2013 to provide fire prevention education and to install smoke alarms in the homes of residents who are 60 years of age or older.

The program also provides visual smoke alarms for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

So far, 107 smoke alarms have been installed, plus 20 visual smoke alarms and 47 home safety checks have been done.

The Fire Department used the grant to fund a temporary part-time program coordinator and two fire interns. Local volunteers also assist in giving presentations and doing home safety checks.

Three educational sessions are available on preventing home fires, preventing falls and using 911.

The presentations are conducted at various places where seniors may gather including the San Luis Obispo Senior Center and various senior living complexes.

Home safety visits consist of a scheduled visit to a home of any resident over the age of 60. Smoke alarms are checked, new long-life batteries are installed, and new alarms are installed if needed.

Residents are also given a four-foot dowel, sized to fit the test button of the alarms, so that a senior can test the alarms without climbing on a chair.

To date more than 25 sessions have been conducted for more than 750 attendees.

The city sought the grant after a number of residential fires ended in fatalities.

In February 2011, Roy Jones, 100, died in a house fire that erupted in the kitchen of his home in southern San Luis Obispo. One year later, in January 2012, Barbara Beck, 79, died after a fire broke out at her home in a Bishop Peak neighborhood.

The grant expires at the end of the year, but the Fire Department is looking for additional funding options to keep the program going.

“This program is vitally important to our community,” said fire Chief Garret Olson. “Responding to fires and emergency medical incidents in the city, our cross-trained firefighter-paramedics see the unfortunate outcomes when seniors’ living environments aren’t as safe as possible. With a simple home visit from one of our trained, compassionate interns, we can help prevent so much loss and suffering.”

For more information about the program, which is available to San Luis Obispo residents only, contact Joyce Pardue at 783-7772 or email

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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