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Sunday, August 11, 2019
“Wake Up Delaware” Fire Prevention Initiative


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The “Wake Up Delaware” fire prevention program was conceived in 2001 by members of the Delaware fire service, as the direct result of the tragic deaths of 16 Delawareans in two residential fires, five (5) deaths in Broadkill in October 2000 and eleven (11) deaths in Indian River in January 2001.  These respective residential locations did not have any working smoke detectors in place.

  1. Broadkill Beach, Sussex County, Delaware - ; and

  2. Oak Orchard, Sussex County, Delaware -

Wake Up Delaware was developed and has been recognized as the only initiative of its kind in the United States, where all fire stations in a state join together at the same time to distribute free smoke detectors and batteries to residents.

Originally, Wake Up Delaware was funded by a federal grant, as part of the Assistance to Firefighters ("Fire Act” and/or “AFG") grant program, sponsored by FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration.  However, this funding has been discontinued and now many quasi-public and private partnerships and/or corporate contributions have funded this extremely valuable program.  (Funding Initiatives:

Residents are encouraged to visit their local firehouse to receive the free detectors and batteries, when available, and are asked to provide address information to assist fire department personnel in their continuing effort to ensure that every household in Delaware has at least one working smoke detector in place. Brochures describing recommended installation practices are also available in English and Spanish. Persons requiring assistance with installation or replacement are encouraged to ask their fire company for help as well.

Early in Calendar Year 2019, the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company has been vigorously pursuing and targeting communities for distribution and installation, if needed, of free smoke detectors via the aforementioned programs.

Indian River's Fire Prevention Coordinators, Robert Marmor and Roxanne Bammer, have been instrumental in getting the fire prevention program rejuvenated.  This program has hosted numerous campaigns via community meetings, door-to-door efforts, press releases, and local school initiatives.  Some of their efforts are:

Most recently in Long Neck with the fatal structure fire of three (3) children under the age of five (5), it is being stated that working smoke detectors have not been located during the initial investigative phase.

It is still estimated that many homes in Delaware are not equipped with working smoke detectors. People that do not have smoke detectors installed in their homes assume that they are able to smell smoke when they are asleep and wake up in time to escape in case of a fire emergency. Well, this is not true at all.

Why you need smoke detectors?

Smoke detectors are an essential part of every household.  They can warn you before you smell smoke and give you time to get to safety. It is recommended at least one smoke detector on every level of your home, including the basement and the attic.

Why is it important to have a smoke alarm?

Smoke alarms are important because they can give you an early signal to something that could be tragic – basically saving your lives. A smoke alarm alerts you when they you are busy, working or sleeping.

Despite documented "saves" resulting directly from this initiative, and the relentless efforts of many within the Delaware Fire Service to publicly distribute free smoke detectors and public enhance awareness of fire prevention, we (the fire service) have much more work to complete. 

Please contact us at for fire prevention presentations, information or public awareness efforts.