Junk vehicles catalyst for saving lives in Kentucky
The Rotary Club of Lexington, the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG), industry, and the public are working together to meet the goal of “instituting a working smoke detector in every residence in Fayette County, Kentucky, by the year 2000.” Their vehicle for meeting this objective is the “Save A Life” program launched in February 1995 by the Lexington Rotary Club and the LFUCG.
Under the program, citizens wishing to dispose of junk vehicles and who agree to forgo the current salvage fee of $80 per vehicle call a hotline established for the program. The car is towed without charge by Bluegrass Towing, Inc., which donates the $80-per-car salvage fee to the “Save A Life” program. Other participants in the junk-car component of the program are Baker Iron and Metal Co., Cellular One, and several departments and divisions of the Urban County Government.
The program, which could net between $4,000 and $8,000 annually for the purchase of smoke detectors, offers several benefits for the community, says Chuck Mallory, director of the Division of Code Enforcement for the LFUCG. He explains that, in addition to saving lives by providing money for the purchase of smoke detectors, disposing of junk vehicles helps beautify the community and reduces the threats to the water supply, pets, and wildlife posed by leaking fluids from the vehicles and health threats created by rodents and insects that may breed in the vehicles.
An additional advantage of the program is that tenants have been reporting landlords who have not provided smoke detectors in their residences, making it possible for the Division of Code Enforcement to follow through with the landlords to ensure the installation of detectors in their rental properties. All new residential construction must have hardwire/battery backup detectors. Mallory points out that about 43 percent of local residential A housing is rental and help is needed in identifying properties not protected by detectors. The Lexington Division of Fire and Emergency Services responded to 387 residential fires during 1994, and 139 of these residences did not have smoke detectors present, notes Mallory. An additional 30 had nonworking detectors, he adds. Five people died in residential fires in Fayette County in 1995; working smoke detectors were not present in any of these cases, according to local fire officials.
Among donations that helped launch the program were the following: 400 “First Alert” smoke detectors from BRK Brands, Inc.; the services of Wheatley Blair of Chicago, BRK`s advertising agency, in creating a comprehensive smoke detector awareness program in Lexington; and seed money in the amount of $2,000 from the Lexington Rotary Club and $5,000 from the Fraternal Order of Firefighters.
During the first six weeks the program has been in existence, more than 80 homeowners have been approved for free smoke detectors, which are delivered (and installed, if necessary) by Rotary members. Under the program, free smoke detectors are provided to the handicapped, the elderly, and low-income individuals.
For more information, contact Mallory or Lawrence Williams, Code Enforcement, LFUCG, at (606) 258-3270.