Man hopes donation will prevent fire victims


OAKWOOD — News of fires caught one man’s attention. The 87-year old is making sure his neighbors are prepared for an emergency. His idea is more smoke alarms.

Leo Downing says he’s donating some saved money to the village to install them where needed. He says he spends a lot of time sitting around listening to music or doing jigsaw puzzles and this gives him something to do outside the house and for his community of nearly 60 years.

It’s clips like these which caught Leo Downing’s attention:

“I hear this on the news, people who didn’t get their animals out or even a person lost their life because either a smoke alarm didn’t work or they didn’t even have any or didn’t have enough, maybe,” he says.

Downing says that kind of news made him want to do something. He says he got up one day to get the mail and decided to keep walking. He went to the village hall to discuss a plan to buy smoke alarms for his neighbors.

“So I just thought, well, you know, I have a few dollars laying around and I thought let’s see if I could help somebody.”

Neither Downing nor Terry Hume know how much of a need there might be. But as president of the Oakwood Fire Protection District, Hume says smoke alarms are an easy thing to forget, whether it’s changing the batteries or… 

“Maybe somebody was cooking something on the stove. The alarm goes off and they get tired of it and the next thing you know it gets thrown away and not replaced,” says Hume.

Sometimes, they never go up in the first place.

He continues, “A lot of older people aren’t able to get up and put them in places, or it’s just not an expense that people want to lay out the cash for.”

Hume says it was a pleasant surprise to learn Downing does. Firefighters will use the money he donates to buy alarms for those who need them.

Downing says the chance of keeping something like this off the news is enough for him.

Downing says, “I thought maybe up to $1,000 I could go. I could probably go higher if the need really existed, I’m sure I could.”

Hume says this will give firefighters a rare chance to see how the community is doing with smoke alarms. He says they haven’t really done that for about six years.

Once people start calling, they’ll start placing orders. If you live in the area and need smoke alarms, call the village hall or stop by to add yourself to the sign-up sheet.

Oakwood Village Hall
(217) 354 – 4255

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