City hopes new device will fix vacant house fire problem - WDRB 41 Louisville News

City hopes new device will fix vacant house fire problem

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- George Palmer has lived on 41st Street all of his life. He takes pride in his neighborhood and loves the people that live in it. 

"The majority of the people that I see on this block have been here since I was a kid," he said.

But there's always been one thing that's bothered him.

"People that have moved out or have moved on ... some of the houses have been vacant," Palmer said.

Boarded up windows, tall grass and old for sale signs fill his neighborhood. Palmer says vacant homes can attract the wrong crowd and can even be dangerous.

"If that house burns down, my house is going to be in danger," he said.

His concern is warranted. 

From 2012 to 2015, 44 percent of fires in the west end that involved two or more buildings started in a vacant home.

"The old city houses are so close together that it's a real problem," said Maj. Brian Meurer with Louisville Fire.

The city started a contest to see who could fix the problem. Three of the best tech minds in Louisville came up with something called CASPER.

CASPER is a device that detects when a smoke detector is going off. It then uses a 3G wireless connection to alert firefighters.

"This device typically gives a response between a minute and a minute and a half," said co-creator Nathan Armentrout.

It's being installed in nine homes as part of the pilot and perhaps many more in the future. For Palmer, it makes sense and fixes a problem he's wanted extinguished for a while now.

"If it's going to send a signal to get the fire department here, that's better than I have in my house now, so that's great."

Each device lasts for about 10 years and costs $150. 

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