NOFD installing smoke detectors after fatal Central City fire

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The New Orleans Fire Department is hoping to turn tragedies into lifesaving lessons, and firefighters are making house calls to spread the message.

There were no smoke alarms found in a Central City home that was destroyed by fire on Saturday. Twenty-eight-year-old Erica Moten was trapped, and later died from her injuries.

On Monday, many of her neighbors received a visit from the New Orleans Fire Department.

A brigade of firefighters and American Red Cross volunteers walked a three-by-five block area, knocking on doors and installing forty-five detectors in all. They also scheduled 17 more installations. It's part of an ongoing campaign that's a top priority for Fire Superintendent Timothy McConnell, who spoke to the media just steps away from the site of Saturday's fatal fire.

"We're trying to emphasize and get the idea out to people that this really, really is the most important way and the easiest way to save lives, hopefully making sure these folks don't die in vain," said McConnell.

Dora and T.R. Jackson, who live across the street from where Erica Moten lived, welcomed firefighters into their home. Mrs. Jackson says the smoke detector campaign is critically important for the community.

"I think this is a beautiful thing because people should put their foot forward and put smoke detectors in their houses because it could save a lot of lives," she said.

Firefighters will come to any home in the city of New Orleans and install detectors free of charge. They are also happy to check the batteries in any existing fire safety devices already in place.

The detectors, which are good for ten years, are being paid for with the help of generous private donations and the state fire Marshall. This campaign shifted into high gear after a November 11, 2014 fire that killed five people in Broadmoor. Like the home in Central City, it was another residence without functional smoke detectors.

The Fire Superintendent says that about 2,500 detectors have been installed since that November fire — and his goal is to have 7,500 new installs this year.

Captain Autrey Plaisance was one firefighter on the community action scene Monday. He also reminded residents that smoke and fire aren't the only dangers in a home.

"You also have carbon monoxide issues so you should also have a carbon monoxide detector in your house if you have any kind of gas appliances," said Captain Plaisance.

If you know someone who needs a smoke detector, the N.O.F.D. is ready to make more house calls.

You can go online at www.nola.gov/nofd or call 658-4714 and leave a message. Another option is to stop by any fire station and ask a firefighter.