PITTSTON — Saturday was not the day for the family to sleep in at Sally and Steven Costello’s house.

“I told them they better be up,” Sally Costello said.

Mid-morning, in the space of a very active 20 minutes or so, people trooped through the house from basement to second floor looking at walls and ceilings, determining where the new smoke detectors should go. The whine of a drill and the piercing triple beeps of the smoke alarm test ensured no one could possibly stay asleep.

While Pittston Fire Chief Jason Farris and Steven Costello mulled the best positions for seven smoke detectors — one on each floor and one in each bedroom — Sally Costello provided information to volunteer Judy Stoddard, who completed paperwork for the program in the kitchen.

Across Pittston, Farris and his department installed 220 smoke detectors in 69 homes on Saturday. To be eligible, town residents signed up for the program before the Dec. 18, 2015, deadline. The smoke detectors were supplied by the American Red Cross for the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign. The detectors come equipped with batteries that last 10 years. Because it is a single unit, the smoke detector is replaced when the batteries die.

During the course of a year, the Pittston Fire Department responds to about 100 fire calls. Of those, 20 will be structure fires, and of those, an average of five will be in Pittston, Farris said.

Among the most recent was a November kitchen fire on Webb Road. The family was awakened by a smoke detector in the middle of the night and was able to escape.

That’s not the case in all fires. Farris said he’s responded to fires where he can hear the smoke detector going off and finds it stuck in a drawer.

“It doesn’t do much good there,” Farris said.

This is the first time such an event has been organized in Pittston, he said. The Pittston Firemen’s Association is able to pay for some smoke detectors and batteries for the fire department to carry on its trucks, but it could not afford to provide smoke detectors on this scale, he said.

If word gets out to residents about how well the day went, Deb MacInnes said, Pittston may organize another smoke detector event. MacInnes, an administrative secretary for the town of Pittston, was one of 26 people, including firefighters, who volunteered time for the program.

“I think all the towns should do this,” she said. The Red Cross provides the paper work, including handouts on safety that were left with the residents and the notices that were sent home with Pittston students. “We even got the food donated, so the town didn’t pay for anything.”

As for the Costellos, they have never had a problem with fire. They check their smoke detectors once a year at Christmas and whenever else it occurs to her to check, Sally Costello said. They service their oil furnace, and they clean the wood stove every year, “although the discussion now is whether we will get a new stove.”

The Red Cross suggests testing detectors monthly. It also recommends having an escape plan, which includes knowing more than one way of leaving a room in case of fire and identifying a spot outside the home where family members can meet after getting out of a burning building.

“Ninety-seven percent of the people who go back into a fire don’t come out,” Stoddard said.

Costello said they didn’t have a plan, but she would mention that to her husband.

“I think it’s an awesome idea,” Costello said. “Why wouldn’t we do it? It’s free, and they put them up for us.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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