The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

June 4, 2013

Danville man uses tragedy to fuel fire safety awareness

By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News

DANVILLE — After a personal tragedy, a Danville man is making it his mission to ensure area households are protected against fires.

Keith Kopelcheck’s friend Jon Shaw died in a 2005 house fire, when Kopelcheck was going to college at Slippery Rock University. He remembers coming back from spring break and finding out about Shaw’s death in a newspaper article.

“It was tough to take. It made me realize that I need to be doing things better, making sure my house is safe and doing the necessary things,” he said.

It was only in the last few months that Kopelcheck began to consider doing more than just ensuring the safety of his own property.

“Just recently I’m realizing that maybe there’s not enough being done. Reading from statistics, I saw that 4 percent of homes don’t even have smoke alarms and 20 percent of homes have smoke alarms that aren’t working. I know that there’s a lot that can be done,” he said. “I know firsthand how important smoke alarms and fire safety are from losing a friend.”

For the past several weeks, he has been going door to door and passing out fliers to homes in Danville and Riverside giving fire safety advice to residents. These include placing smoke alarms in every room of the house, replacing batteries in alarms twice a year, replacing outdated smoke alarms and testing alarms every month and keeping them dust free.

Koppelcheck estimates he’s given out a few thousand fliers to the majority of residents in both Danville and Riverside. He’s looking to start spreading his message in Bloomsburg in the near future.

He has also been in talks with his mother’s modular home construction company, Richcraft, about developing a smartphone app that will remind people to check their smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries twice a year. A development company called Mojo recently expressed interest in developing the app, said Koppelcheck.

Koppelcheck also hopes to start a non-profit organization that can teach school children about the value of smoke alarms and fire safety.

He also created a website,, as a means of quickly getting his message to the public. “I wanted to get something out there just so people have something to look at,” he said. “I hope to, once the organization gets going, incorporate the organization with the website.”



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