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Lowe's donates award to fire department

January 05, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

All those weeks going door to door during the hottest days last summer paid off big Wednesday for Lowe's of Hagerstown and the Hagerstown Fire Department.

A coveted national $10,000 grand prize was awarded to the Lowe's Heroes team, which promptly donated it to the fire department.

"This has always been a great family store," said Nick Canter, senior vice president of the 550-store home improvement chain. "I'm proud of what we've done to serve this community."

More than 30 Lowe's employees joined with fire department personnel to visit nearly 4,000 Hagerstown homes in one month, checking and often replacing smoke detectors at Lowe's expense.

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That effort won the Hagerstown store the big prize.

Mike Weller, life safety educator for the fire department, congratulated the Lowe's team and the firefighters who got together Wednesday for a banquet to celebrate the award.

"We did together in one month what it would have taken five months for the fire department alone," Weller said.

In 1998, homes in the center city, west central and the West End were surveyed, Weller said. Lowe's had 22 volunteers signed up for the program.

Over the summer, the southeast section of Locust, Manor Drive, Frederick Street and the extreme northwest around Salem Avenue, West Church, and Marshall Street were visited.

Breaking the city up into sectors means that the entire city is canvassed for smoke detectors and other fire safety programs every four years.

One-third of the money will be spent to enhance the life safety surveys done in Hagerstown, Weller said.

"Our plan is to continue chipping away at cooking fires and juvenile firesetting," he said, of a use for part of the money. Those two categories still account for most fires in Hagerstown.

Increased education on careless cooking translated into a 13 percent decrease in such fires in 1997 and a 24 percent drop in 1998, Weller said.

In 1999, the decrease was just under 30 percent.

And a new room is being planned at Children's Village of Washington County for skills education. That room will be called the Lowe's Room, Weller said.

A presence in Hagerstown since Jan. 15, 1962, Lowe's is on Wesel Boulevard.

Store manager Bill Cosner said the Lowe's Store had won regional prizes the last two years and he was confident the team would go all the way this year.

"I attribute the success to my people and the fire department," Cosner said.

Team member Diane Wells has been a Lowe's employee for three years and a team member all three of those years.

"It makes me feel great going into homes and helping people get fire protection for the first time," Wells said.

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