A junior firefighter from New Salem is helping families stay safe as he led an effort for the volunteer fire department to provide smoke detectors for area school children.

Josh Radovich, 14, wanted to raise enough money to provide smoke detectors for students at Menallen Elementary School. Through an appeal on a Facebook page, Josh raised about $5,200 — enough to provide smoke detectors for elementary students at four Uniontown Area schools: Menallen, Franklin, Lafayette and Ben Franklin.

“I didn’t think it would raise that much money,’’ said Josh. “I was excited to be able to do four schools.’’

A freshman at Uniontown Area High School, Josh is the son of Dave and Jennifer Radovich and has a sister, Gianna, 11. Josh has been a junior firefighter since he became old enough last December.

Fire prevention is important to the family as Dave is president of New Salem VFD.

“He’s grown up around it all his life,’’ said Dave, who became a firefighter in 1997.

Josh found inspiration for this project in Bill Miller, a New Salem firefighter who passed away this year. In years past, Miller oversaw a project for the fire department to provide smoke detectors for Menallen kindergarten students and smoke detector batteries for the school’s other students. They would be passed out during Fire Prevention Week.

When New Salem VFD was invited to speak about fire prevention at Menallen recently, Josh wanted to do the smoke detector project again.

He felt it was important “to keep people safe – especially for those who can’t afford them.’’

After talking with his father, Josh decided to try to raise enough funds to provide smoke detectors for all Menallen students.

“So Josh and my cousin Lisa Harvilla put together a Facebook page to solicit donations for smoke detectors,’’ said Dave. “She set a goal of $2,000 for him to have enough to buy smoke detectors for the whole school. Ended up, he raised $5,200 in a matter of two and a half weeks.’’

The fire department was able to purchase 1,104 smoke detectors from Scott Electric in Greensburg to be distributed to elementary students in four Uniontown Area elementary schools with the remaining given to the Calvary Baptist Church youth group in Uniontown to pass out.

“I was proud of him,’’ said Dave. “He wants to keep it going, and next year, he wants to do the two mountain schools.’’

“He’s a good kid,’’ said Jennifer. “I like them to do things without personal gain for themselves. I felt that’s what he did.’’

Josh learned about generosity as the project generated interest.

“Some people care more than you think,’’ said Josh, who thanked donors on the Facebook page.

“It restored my faith in humanity,’’ said Jennifer, “that people were so caring.’’

Josh accompanied firefighters to the schools to distribute smoke detectors as they presented programs on fire prevention and safety in October during Fire Prevention Month. New Salem visited Menallen, Smock and Flatwood fire departments went to Franklin and Uniontown fire department did Ben Franklin and Lafayette.

“It was something to be proud about at the end when you gave them to the kids,’’ said Josh.

Josh’s efforts were recognized as Uniontown Area School Board presented him with its “Making a Difference Award’’ and Uniontown Fire Department, Fayette County Firemen’s Association and state Rep. Matt Dowling, R-Uniontown, gave him certificates.

Josh is happy with the way the project turned out, saying, “I like to be able to help the community.’’

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