Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Dec. 2, 2002

Free pizza ­ if your smoke detectors work

By Ryan Gueningsman

Who said there is no such thing as a free lunch? Not so to the Winsted Fire Department.

Teaming up with Jimmy's Pizza, the fire department has started a program that will give a free pizza to a resident in the Winsted fire coverage area. But there is a catch. The residents must have working smoke detectors in order to get their dinner free.

Any resident, who orders a pizza to be delivered Monday nights between 6 and 7 p.m., must have working smoke alarms in their home to get their pizza free. If all the smoke detectors are in working order, the fire department picks up the cost of the pizza.

So far, the department has paid for two pizzas, and given out one smoke detector and two packs of batteries.

Several members of the fire department arrive at Jimmy's Pizza at 6 p.m. Monday evenings and check the orders that are there to be delivered. They randomly pick a house, and deliver their pizza to them via fire truck.

They go inside and check the alarms. If the alarms work, the people get their pizza free. If the alarms do not work, the person will receive a new smoke detector, or pack of batteries, or sometimes both, depending on the situation.

"I think this is great public relations for the fire department," said Joe Caouette, owner of Jimmy's Pizza. "It's a good idea, and it is going to gain popularity as more people become aware of it."

"This is something that is done out east," said Winsted Fire Chief Paul Herbolsheimer. "I read about the program while doing research on the Internet for ideas for Fire Prevention Week."

"We wanted to start a program like this to be more proactive ­ preventing fires from happening in the first place," Herbolsheimer said.

The Winsted Fire Department does poster contests, the adopt-a- hydrant program, and visits classrooms to remind school-aged people about fire safety, but statistics show that a majority of house fire fatalities are adults, rather than children.

"Those stats show that the education we are giving the young children is working," Herbolsheimer said. "But we also need to give a reminder to the adults, and this is a good way to do that."

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