He remembers as a kid when his mom set off a smoke alarm in their Tennessee home while cooking chicken.
“She’s going to kill me for telling you that,” country music star Chris Young said.
More recently, Young’s tour bus caught on fire after he and his band performed at a small venue in North Carolina.
Luckily, one of Young’s crewmembers was able to douse the blaze with a fire extinguisher.
With his latest hit, “I’m Comin’ Over,” sizzling up the country music charts, Young spent 15 minutes before his concert at the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa on Thursday connecting backstage with command staff of Anaheim Fire & Rescue and the Costa Mesa Fire Department.
In a partnership with smoke alarm manufacturer Kidde United Technologies, Young donated hundreds of smoke alarms to AF&R and the Costa Mesa FD — which prompted his stories about close calls with fires.
Young, 30, a Grammy Award-nominated artist whose hits include “Save Water, Drink Beer,” “Lonely Eyes” and “Aw Naw,” also explained that the Kidde partnership was inspired, in part, by a close childhood friend who recently became a firefighter in Tennessee.
Young said he helped support his friend, nicknamed Bubba, through the fire academy — and said country music and the fire service go together like mandolins and lyrics about cheating hearts.
“There’s definitely a connection there,” Young said backstage.
Anaheim Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Jeff Alario and Fire Marshal Jeff Lutz were on hand to thank Young for the smoke alarm donation, along with Fred Seguin, Deputy Chief of the Costa Mesa Fire Department.
“Anytime someone helps us do our job better and helps make our community safer is great,” Alario said of Young’s partnership with Kidde.
The 250 fire alarms will be shipped to Anaheim Fire & Rescue and will be used as part of the agency’s innovative Home Safety Visit Program, launched last October and set to ramp up this fall, Lutz said. AF&R has applied for a $350,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to secure 15,000 smoke alarms for its Home Safety Visit Program, in which the agency targets seniors living in single-family homes to make sure they have working smoke alarms.
Beginning last fall, Anaheim residents could request a visit by AF&R officials to inspect their smoke alarms, Lutz said. Now the agency is becoming more proactive about the program. In a partnership with the American Red Cross, AF&R last month equipped the homes at Sunkist Mobile Home Park with new smoke alarms, Lutz said.
The 250 Kidde Worry-Free alarms, which cost $20 each, come with sealed, non-replaceable batteries that last 10 years.
Lutz, Alario and Seguin stressed the importance of having working smoking alarms in homes. About 3,000 people die in U.S. home fires each year.
“When you see a person who has been burned, it really makes an impact on you,” Lutz said.
He recalled a call a few years ago he went out on as PIO of the agency. An elderly woman had fallen asleep while smoking in a recliner in her living room. She died.
A working smoke alarm could have woken her up and saved her life, said Lutz, who is passionate about educating the public about smoke alarms.
Most fatal fires happen in homes with either no smoke alarms or no working alarms due to dead or missing batteries, Lutz said.
“Aside from children, seniors are one of our most vulnerable populations,” Lutz said.
A Chris Young fan said before Thursday’s concert she was impressed by the singer’s donation of smoke alarms.
“That’s awesome,” said Lore Wright, of Perris. “Helping others out is what we all should be here for.”
Young pointed out that working smoke alarms also make the job of firefighting safer. In 2012, the National Fire Protection Association reported that 2,2000 firefighters sustained in-the-line-of-duty burn injuries.
Young doesn’t want that to happen to his buddy Bubba or any firefighters.
The country singer/songwriter first partnered with Kidde in November 2014 for its “Spotlight on Fire Safety” campaign, which aims to raise awareness about how families can protect themselves from the hazards of fire and also supports the Phoenix Society’s SOAR (Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery) program for firefighters.
AF&R has a strong relationship with the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, including its SOAR program
This year, Young agreed to partner up with Kidde and donate the smoke alarms to fire service agencies during four stops on his world tour: Costa Mesa, Webster, Mass., Sioux City, Iowa and Columbus, Ohio.
“Thank you for all you are doing for us,” Lutz told Young, who wore a blue dress shirt, black jeans, and black boots for his Costa Mesa concert.
The chart-topping Young politely answered questions and mingled with fire officials and their guests. After a quick break, he took the stage and fired up the crowd.