As the autumn temperatures start to drop, more than 100 volunteers with a program called "Heat’s On" are making sure that 60 Madison-area families have working and reliable heat in their homes.
One of those families, elderly homeowners Clayton and Artis Allen, claim that so far they haven’t had problems with their old furnace in the home they've lived in for more than six decades.
But they add that their health doesn't always allow them to get into their basement very easily to check their furnace.
Enter a worker like HVAC technician Sam Redalen, who this time of year performs potentially life-saving work.
"They just really appreciate you coming," said Redalen, who serviced the Allen’s furnace. "They can’t really afford to do this off the clock."
The furnace checks are a part of Dane County’s "Heat's On" program; volunteers working in the program have been providing free checks for seniors and low income families for 25 years.
The Madison Fire Department responds to about 100 possible carbon monoxide leaks a year.
Chief Steven Davis says that prevention is the key to keeping families safe.
"The number of people they touch, we can kind of figure that’s the number of people we won’t necessarily see in the heating season," said Davis of the program. "They’ll be safe in their homes."
For Clayton and Artis Allen, the simple one-hour check will put their minds at ease when they turn on their thermostat this season.
It also means their home of 63 years will remain cozy for at least another winter.
"It means that Clayton and I can be home," said Artis. "We don’t have to be in assisted living."
Local heating contractors provide the trucks and equipment used by the program, while any replacement parts families may need are donated by Madison-area suppliers.