by Dennis Dalman
Quick quiz: How long does a smoke detector last? How long does a carbon-monoxide detector last?
Answer number one: 10 years. Answer number two: 7 years. And that is true for detectors with batteries as well as those powered by electricity.
Detector batteries should be replaced once every year, and residents should write that replacement date on a calendar because detectors are, more or less out of sight, out of mind, making their presence (and their importance) easy to forget.
For the past 10 years or so, retired firefighters have replaced batteries and/or smoke detectors (an average total of 80 detectors) in residences throughout Sartell and LeSauk Township.
Retired Sartell firefighter Dennis Molitor is one of four retired firefighters who volunteers every fall for a public-service community project dubbed “Smoke Alarms Save Lives!” The others this year are Al Schulte and brothers Bob and Steve Heins. All of them are members of the Sartell Retired Firefighters Association.
Molitor said based on his experiences of checking and replacing detectors, he estimates there are probably about 1,000 old detectors in homes or apartments in Sartell/LeSauk Township that need to be replaced. Some, he said, are as old as 30 or 40 years, making them utterly useless in detecting smoke or fire.
On Oct. 27, Molitor contacted the Newsleaders for an interview. He was calling from his truck parked in the Waite Park Menard’s store lot. What had he just purchased? More smoke detectors, of course.
Molitor said it’s surprising how many people don’t know those “expiration” dates.
The battery/detector exchange service is open for senior citizens or for those close to retirement age living in Sartell and LeSauk Township. There is no charge, but small donations are welcomed to cover the cost of the detectors and batteries.
The manufacturing date is stamped on the back of each detector. People can remove the detector from walls or ceilings to check that date. Then add 10 years to that particular date. If the result exceeds 10 years, buy, install and test a new one. Same with carbon-monoxide detectors, but instead add seven years to the manufacturing date.
The service starts every October (Fire Prevention Month) and continues until Nov. 15.
To schedule an appointment for the service, call Molitor at 320-333-1293 and leave a name, phone number and address.