A gift from Howard County Fire and Rescue Services and a group of telephone workers is helping 27-year-old Sharyl Mapp rest easier these days.
Ms. Mapp, who has been hearing impaired since birth, received a special smoke detector recently, the first of three strobe-equipped alarms installed by the county's fire prevention division.
"It has a very bright light and I can see it," said Ms. Mapp, a mother of two who works as a file reviewer for Ryland Homes.
Ms. Mapp said she often used to roam her Ellicott City apartment, sometimes in the middle of the night, alert for possible smoke and worried that she might not hear her smoke alarm if a fire started.
The three special detectors were paid for by the Maryland chapter of the Telephone Pioneers of America, a group of retired and active Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. workers, at a cost of $75 per unit.
A county health department worker, who identifies people in need of smoke detectors, recommended Ms. Mapp.
When activated by smoke, the detector, which was installed in Ms. Mapp's bedroom, will sound loudly for eight seconds then begin flashing.
If someone wants a strobe-equipped smoke detector and cannot afford it, the fire department will help them to get one, said Sgt. Dennis E. Beard, of the fire prevention division.
The smoke detector giveaway is an outgrowth of the department's plan to make sure every home in the county has a smoke detector, said Deputy Chief Edgar G. Shilling, the division's chief.
Three years ago firefighters began giving away smoke detectors to the elderly and to low income people. Last October, they decided to carry smoke detectors on emergency calls in case the residents needed one.
"We feel a lot of homes in Howard County don't have smoke detectors," Sergeant Beard said.
Chief Shilling said persons interested in information about the special smoke detectors may call 313-6040.