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Zetterberg is 'honored' to donate detectors

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings

Henrik Zetterberg donated 2,500 smoke detectors to Detroit area fire departments on Monday. It's the 14th year that the Red Wings have been involved in the program. (Photo by Dana Wakiji/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT -- Firefighting is a job that Henrik Zetterberg says he couldn't do but he is thrilled to be able to support those who do.

After Monday's practice, Zetterberg presented local fire departments with 2,500 smoke detectors that will be installed in the homes of seniors and low-income families.

In addition, Zetterberg matched donations Red Wings fans made during the preseason and will present a check for $8,800 to purchase more smoke detectors before Tuesday night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"I can't say enough," captain Christopher Dixon of the Detroit Fire Department said. "We love his commitment to the city of Detroit. He gives of himself every year. This is probably my sixth year of doing this. I come out every year to help collect the smoke detectors, the money, he matches it. It's unbelievable."

Representatives of fire departments from Detroit, Flint, Clinton Township, Macomb Township, Saginaw, Southfield, Taylor and Springfield Township helped pass the collection boot around before preseason games Sept. 24 and 26 at Joe Louis Arena.

Former Wing Brendan Shanahan started the program in 2001 in honor of his father, who was a firefighter.

This year marks Zetterberg's 10th year of continuing the tradition that Shanahan started.

"It is first an honor to be part of it," Zetterberg said. "Shanahan started this and when he left, they asked me. It was pretty easy to say yes right away. I've been out seeing the firefighters here in Detroit. Just the stuff they do every day and to be able to help them just a little bit, just to get these smoke detectors in the houses, mostly elderly and low-income houses who don't have them in their houses, eventually it saves lives."

Dixon said they keep track of the places that have had high fire fatality rates and then track what happens after they have installed the donated smoke detectors.

"It's major," Dixon said. "In the city of Detroit, we have a large number of vacant homes, each year we're trying to make sure that these fires decrease with our firefighting and our inspection programs that we do inspections in the neighborhoods, but having these lifesaving smoke detectors is wonderful when we don't have to purchase them ourselves, the fire department with our budgets being the way they are."

Zetterberg and some of his teammates have gone to the fire department and gotten a first-hand look at the work the firefighters do.

"We said it right away, there's no chance we could do it," Zetterberg said. "We just tried out the easy stuff. We've been into smoke rooms and stuff like that, just to operate the equipment they do, it is hard work and they are doing it with lives in their hands. The stuff they do, it amazes me and it was fun for us guys to see what they do every day."

Since the program's inception, the Wings have helped distribute more than 30,000 smoke detectors to local fire departments.

"It's fun to be part of it for a while," Zetterberg said. "At the beginning, you don't really realize what it meant. After a few years you see all the guys again and you realize how much it means and you realize it actually saves lives."

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