Zetterberg’s visit to Detroit Fire Department gives new meaning to smoke detector program

After Tuesday's practice, Zetterberg presented more than 2,700 smoke detectors to representatives from area fire departments.

DETROIT — Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg has a new-found appreciation for the work that firefighters do even though he’s supported them for several years.

Last month when the Wings made some visits around town, Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Dan Cleary went to the Detroit Fire Department.

While there, they got to try out some of the things that firefighters have to do on the job.

Zetterberg said the toughest was going into the smoke room.

"We went in and tried to localize a little doll there," Zetterberg said. "It was amazing how they can do that. We just had smoke. We didn’t have the heat either. I can’t see myself doing that on an everyday basis. We had the full outfit on. That is heavy. It’s amazing what they do."

After Tuesday’s practice, Zetterberg presented more than 2,700 smoke detectors to representatives from area fire departments.

Those departments will donate and install the smoke detectors to residents in metro Detroit who cannot afford smoke detectors.

Zetterberg has been involved in the smoke detector program since Brendan Shanahan left. 

Shanahan wanted to do something to help the local fire departments in memory of his father, who was a firefighter.

"Shanahan started it in ’01 and when he left I took over," Zetterberg said. "Since ’01 I think we are up to 28,000 smoke detectors. Step by step, we try to make this bigger and hopefully keep doing this and save some lives."

Zetterberg has not only donated smoke detectors but has also matched fans’ donations made at select games.

Zetterberg and his wife, Emma, started the Zetterberg Foundation last year and the foundation has taken over the smoke detector program.

"It’s very important to him and his wife, Emma, that they’re involved and they give back to the city of Detroit," said Stephan Huber, the director of the Zetterberg Foundation. "They consider this now to be their primary home since they spend most of their time here. It’s been very important to them both to be giving back to the city."

Before Wednesday night’s game against the Boston Bruins, Zetterberg presented a check for $12,000 on behalf of his foundation to help purchase more smoke detectors.

"Having a chance to see the firefighters and see what they do, you appreciate it even more," Zetterberg said. "It’s tough, hard work. For us to be able to help them out it means a lot.

"We have it really easy, the things we do compared to them."

Huber said the Zetterberg Foundation is also involved in a project in Kemba, Ethiopia.

"It’s been really life-changing for me," Huber said. "I’ve had the opportunity to go to Ethiopia with Emma to see the village they adopted, called Kemba, and what they’ve done there and that was incredible. And everything else that we’ve been doing this past year, little over a year, has been remarkable. They’re very involved in the foundation and it’s really important to them to be giving back.

"They like to be pretty quiet about it but the impact they’re making is pretty loud."

The Zetterberg Foundation has a couple of other events coming up.

"We’re doing a fundraising shopping day with Somerset Collection, that’s going to be December 13, where for four hours, people come in and shop and 10 percent of their purchases will go to the foundation," Huber said. "We’re also the partner with Hour Magazine’s Top Docs issue so we’re the charity partner for that. We were the charity partner for Best of Detroit issue as well. So the Top Docs event is coming up October 23 where we’ll be on hand to answer questions and give out information about the foundation to 300 of the top doctors in the area."

For more information on the Zetterberg Foundation, you can visit the website, zetterbergfoundation.org.