Fire departments throughout northern Idaho are giving away 1,200 smoke alarms during the holiday season to elderly and low-income residents.

The smoke detectors - complete with installation and batteries - are going to needy homes via the North Idaho Fire Prevention Cooperatives. The non-profit group bought the alarms with part of a $20,000 fire-prevention grant from the Federal Emergency Managment Agency."Kootenai County departments have given away about 15 percent of their alarms," said Wally Huff, spokesman for the Kootenai County Fire Cooperative. "They're out canvassing their area looking for people who'll qualify."

Huff said Panhandle residents without smoke alarms who believe they qualify should call their local fire department.

Though no specific qualifications have been established, the firefighters hope to make their gifts only to needy households.

Coeur d'Alene Assistant Fire Chief Jim Axtell said he will be installing 30 alarms during the coming week. He said he selected most of his names from senior-citizen groups in the city.

Besides the free smoke detectors and installation, firefighters will return to recipient homes in six months to be sure the devices are working properly, officials said.