Students of the Seneca East Local School District were given an early Christmas present Monday.
The Attica-Venice-Reed Fire District and Republic-Scipio Fire Department visited the school to distribute more than 600 smoke detectors donated by First Alert and 1-800-BoardUp.
The gift was a surprise to students and was proposed after a house fire killed three Seneca East students and two adults Nov. 27. The fire took the lives of the Hamilton/Bondy family.
In response to that tragedy, the AVR Fire District, Republic-Scipio Fire Department and the Seneca East Local School District joined forces to provide smoke detectors for the district's students.
The smoke detectors were distributed Monday, one per family with a student in the schools. Extras were to go to the elderly and low-income families living in the district.
Members of the Elementary School Student Council helped receive the smoke detectors. In addition to smoke detectors, letters were sent home including thank-yous to the men and women of the local fire departments for assisting in providing appropriate fire safety programs. Also in the letter, students were advised of a contest. Students who provide a picture or documentation of smoke detector installation will have their names entered into a drawing to receive prizes.
"This is an incentive for students to install the detectors and to also get the message out to their classmates," said Elementary Principal Brad Powers.
Firefighters will help families install the smoke detectors, as well.
"We feel a little safer knowing that families have at least one working smoke detector," AVR Fire District Chief Brett Meyers said.
"No one should be without (a smoke detector)," said Dave Hefflenger, director of emergency services for 1-800-BoardUp. His office, based in Findlay, has donated 360 smoke detectors.
On Dec. 5, Olivia Bondy's birthday, Seneca East sixth-grade students got a lesson in fire safety from Troy Huth of the State Fire Marshall's Office. A small service also was held in her memory.
Powers said he wants to leave a legacy of fire safety.
"We as a community have come together as a family," Powers said. "Donating the smoke detectors eases the minds of students that may have questions on or about fire safety."
Every October, the school has fire safety week during which students are taught the ins and outs of safety by local fire departments. In January, Seneca East is planning additional fire safety programs for students in grades K-6.
"The key to these programs is prevention." Powers said.
"It is incredible to have so many in the community to step up," said Michael Wank, Seneca East superintendent.