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Photo courtesy City of DeSoto

He is only 11 years old, but Grand Prairie resident Hector Montoya is compassionate beyond his years. This was most recently demonstrated when he donated smoke detectors to DeSoto Fire Rescue in a short presentation held at the city’s Government Center.

According to a City of DeSoto press release, when Montoya was eight years old he saw a news report about a house fire in the City of Fort Worth. The home did not have smoke detectors and it claimed the lives of a woman and one of her twin daughters. At the time, Montoya had been saving for a PlayStation 4. When he heard the news, he told his parents he wanted to spend the $300 he saved and purchase smoke detectors for those homes in need. Since that time, with the help of corporate donations, the young man has donated nearly 3,000 smoke detectors around the area. 

Earlier this month, Montoya donated 125 smoke detectors in the City of DeSoto.

“The smoke detectors will be installed by DeSoto Firefighters in the homes of needy senior citizens who will be identified through our DeSoto Senior Center,” said City of DeSoto Community Relations and Public Information Manager Kathy Jones.

Jones said that in DeSoto, any senior citizen with an identified need is eligible for a free smoke detector for their home.

“In today’s environment with the fuel loads that are in homes, three or four minutes can become a fatal event in a home without a smoke detector to wake someone up at night,” said DeSoto Fire Chief Jerry Duffield.

Wilmer Fire Chief Mark Hamilton agreed. “Smoke detectors are life savers. We recommend one in all bedrooms and make sure to change the batteries every six months, too.”

Hamilton said the best smoke detectors are a combination of smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector.

“If you can't afford one, almost all fire departments will give you one or two and even install them if you need them to,” Hamilton added.

City of Glenn Heights Fire Lieutenant Keith Moore said that the city installs smoke detectors for those who are elderly or in financial need. There is an online form that can be completed in order to qualify.  

During the 2014-2015 fiscal year, Dallas Fire-Rescue installed 6,029 smoke detectors in the homes of Dallas residents.  Jason L. Evans, Public Information Officer for the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department, said, “Dallas Fire-Rescue, along with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is encouraging everyone to install smoke detectors in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of your home - including the basement. Smoke detectors save lives.”

Evans added that while smoke alarms are important, it is also a good idea to have a sound and practiced escape plan as “the first and most important line of defense,” he said.

Evans also advised the best protection regarding installing a smoke detector is installing a combination [photoelectric and Ionization] smoke alarm.

“Ionization alarms are more responsive to flaming fires, and photoelectric alarms are more responsive to smoldering ones,” he said.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 65 percent of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or in homes where the smoke alarms do not work. Additionally, the NFPA reported that three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.