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Firefighters install smoke detectors in Perkasie Park’s Victorian cottages


With its 63 all-wooden Victorian cottages, narrow access roads, tall trees, and single fire hydrant, Perkasie Park is a firefighter’s nightmare. Even a few minutes can mean the difference between a minor fire and a blazing inferno.

That’s why three volunteers from the Perkasie Fire Company spent a couple of hours on a hot, muggy Saturday morning installing smoke detectors in more than three dozen cottages at the private seasonal campground that has been in Perkasie since the early 1880s. The detectors, each with a 10-year lithium battery, were provided at no charge through the Operation 6abc Save-A-Life Fire Safety Campaign.

“The potential is great here,” said Chief Dave Worthington. “Our main concern is getting to these structures early before a number of them are destroyed. Functioning smoke detectors can give us that little edge.”

Neither the fire company nor the Perkasie Park Association, which owns the 21-acre property, want a repeat of what happened in July 1900 when a fast-moving fire destroyed 36 cottages.

Worthington recalled a more recent incident when a combination of vinyl blinds, an electric candle, and lace curtains ignited a fire. Only quick action by the resident kept it from being a major disaster, he said.

Over the years, the fire company has installed smoke detectors at the request of individual cottage owners. This was the first time they’ve made a concerted effort to protect as many houses as possible, said Worthington.

After learning about the availability of smoke detectors this year, the Rev. Richard Horn, past president of the PPA, compiled a list of residents interested in installation. One of those residents who asked for the detectors was Wanda Moyer, a Trumbauersville resident who spends weekends at the park. Her cottage was already equipped with less robust devices so she was happy to swap them for better models.

“I love it,” she said. “It enhances safety for everyone. A lot of people don’t have any.”

Ruth Gantz, who has owned a cottage in the park for 17 years, said having a working smoke detector will help her sleep better.

“I never really worried about a fire,” she said. “But I see the need for this. I’m very happy they are doing it.”

Patricia Dean, whose family has owned one of the largest cottages in the park for more than 20 years, said their only protection has been a fire extinguisher. The smoke detectors “will add another layer of safety,” said the Telford resident.

While Saturday’s project exhausted the current supply of free smoke detectors, Worthington said the fire company will work with 6abc and the manufacturer (Kidde) to obtain more. If they can get them for free, Worthington said the fire company will find the money to purchase them.

“In my book, it’s that important,” he said.

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