Good news! The Philadelphia Fire Department announced today that it’s getting nearly $1 million in grant money to buy and install at least 30,000 smoke alarms over the next two years.

The funds will pay for about 26,000 traditional alarms and 4,000 adaptive alarms for residents who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have low vision.

The Fire Department hopes to begin installing the traditional alarms in October and the adaptive alarms starting in December.

“This funding is vitally important to our mission,” said Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel. “Smoke alarms save lives – it’s that simple.”

How do adaptive smoke alarms work?

Adaptive alarms are designed to warn persons with hearing or vision loss about a possible fire. They come in multiple designs, including some that shake beds and others that activate strobe lights – and they can cost 10 times as much as traditional smoke alarms.

Charles Horton, executive director of the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities, welcomed the news about the adaptive alarms. About 16 percent of city residents – or 45,000 households – have access and functional needs, meaning they could require extra help before, during or after an emergency.

“This is a wonderful endeavor for the Philadelphia Fire Department,” Horton said. “This is also an opportunity for the entire community of people with disabilities to evaluate and/or create their own safety plan if there is a fire or emergency. Being prepared and practicing for emergency situations is extremely important, and these smoke detectors are a necessary tool for saving someone’s life.”

Need an alarm? Call 311

  • If you need a smoke alarm, please contact 311 and specify if you need an adaptive alarm. For traditional alarms, it could take 60 days from the date of the request until the alarms are installed. The PFD hopes to begin installing adaptive alarms starting in December.
  • Smoke alarms should be located on each level of a home, including the basement. You should test them each week!

In cooperation with city and community partners, the Fire Department currently installs about 8,000 alarms per year, which translates into more than 2,600 addresses. Because of this new funding, we’ll be increasing the number of installations over the next two years.

The smoke alarm grant comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the Department of Homeland Security. It is the second FEMA grant awarded to the Philadelphia Fire Department in recent weeks: The PFD also received $2.6 million to put more than 2,000 firefighters through fireground survival and mayday training.