EMMITSBURG, Md. - In the wake of two major fires, one claiming the lives of Diana Meyer, 43, and Geraldine Jones, 74, firefighters in the close-knit community of Emmitsburg installed smoke detectors to keep these kinds of tragedies from happening.
“When tragedy happens, we all stick together,” said resident Tonya Hanvey.
Hanvey’s home had smoke detectors on both floors, but not in every bedroom. Firefighters with the Vigilant Hose Company took about ten minutes to install three smoke detectors in the separate bedrooms.
“For everyone to come out and get together and just want to do any type of prevention, I just think that’s absolutely phenomenal,” Hanvey said.
Along with the American Red Cross of Western Maryland, firefighters installed more than 200 smoke detectors on Saturday.
Nick Geier, executive director of the American Red Cross of Western Maryland, said that when push comes to shove, having a working smoke detector can save lives.
“You got about two minutes to get out of the house in the case of a fire," he said. "So having that working smoke detector is important. It saves lives and prevents injuries."
Firefighters from across the country joined the effort, hailing from Las Vegas, Denver and Los Angeles. Lt. Alex McKenna of the Vigilant Hose Company said the smoke detectors they installed are top-of-the-line, with lithium batteries that last for ten years.
“Essentially, we just want to make sure it doesn’t happen again," he said. "We’re here to respond when it happens, but we don’t want to see anyone get hurt, don’t want to see anyone die."
Firefighters would not specify if the residents killed in Monday's fatal fire had working smoke detectors installed. Regardless, they said installing these safety devices could save others in the future.
In the days since, neighbors have placed flowers on the front stoop where the fatal fire occurred. Residents have also started a GoFundMe campaign to help with the funeral costs for Meyer and Jones.
Firefighters from the Vigilant Hose Company install smoke detectors year-round. Anyone who might qualify can call them at 301-447-2728.