Senior station officer Matt Pa'a installs a new photoelectric long-life smoke alarm in Jo Takarangi's flat, watched by Senior Firefighter Mark Wilson and Mrs Takarangi.

Whanganui Fire Brigade was given $10,000 by the New Zealand Community Trust - which distributes $14 million a year from gaming machines - to hold its 150th jubilee. It used $8000 to buy smoke alarms and install them for at-risk groups - especially the elderly.

Kaiwhaiki Pa has been the first place to benefit, and yesterday two fire crews were installing alarms in Putiki Marae's kaumatua flats.

The service recommends having a smoke alarm in each bedroom, hallway and living area of a house, senior firefighter Geoff Moore said. It does not recommend putting them in kitchens and bathrooms, where smoke and steam sets them off needlessly.

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Firefighters are available to give advice and install smoke alarms for free.

"There are lots of fire deaths nationally and locally. We are trying to avoid that. We can't stress the importance of smoke alarms enough," Mr Moore said.

PHOTO/ STUART MUNRO