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Fire department to provide free smoke detectors

It’s a simple truth, according to Jonesborough Fire Chief Phil Fritts — smoke detectors save lives. But not everyone can afford smoke detectors.
Now Fritts and his team are hoping to change all that, thanks to a new statewide program designed to provide free smoke detectors for at-risk homes.
“We want to be able to make sure everyone — including low-income, the elderly and anyone in need — has working smoke detectors for a safer home,” Fritts said.
Better yet, “We’ll come to your house and install them at no charge.”
The program, provided through the State Fire Marshal’s office and funded by a Federal Emergency Management Agency Fire Prevention Grant, is part of an ongoing plan to increase fire safety and decrease fire-related deaths throughout the state.
Tennessee was once ranked second in the nation in the number of fire-related fatalities each year, Fritts said.
That ranking is now sixth in the nation, and firefighters throughout the state are working hard to continue the promising trend.
Jonesborough’s Fire Department has received 200 smoke detectors to distribute throughout the department’s primary response area, and Fritts said he and his fellow firefighters couldn’t be happier.
“For the most part, when we lose people, we’re losing them in a residential fire,” Fritts explained. “When a family has smoke detectors in the home, we’re more likely to go out on a call to find everyone safe on the lawn, not still asleep in the house.”
In fact, Fritts said, “Smoke detectors are the most important thing you put in your house if you intend to sleep there. If you sleep there, your house has to have smoke detectors.”
Currently, it is recommended, at a minimum, to have a smoke detector on each floor, in each hallway outside bedrooms and inside each sleeping area.
“I say ‘sleeping area’ because some people sleep in the den or on the sofa, and if that’s true, you need to have a smoke detector in there too,” Fritts said.
Safety is also about more than having detectors installed in the right places, Fritts said. It’s also about education.
“We’re not just going to install the smoke detectors,” he stressed. “We’re going to educate them on how to maintain it.”
Each family will be encouraged to have a fire escape plan ready if the alarms do go off, as well.
The smoke detector giveaway will be going on throughout December, and local residents are encouraged to call if they need assistance. Smoke detectors designed for the hearing impaired will also be available.
“The point is, we don’t want anyone sleeping through a fire,” Fritts said. “We want you out. When you look at property versus life, there is no comparison. We will try to save your home, but first we want you to be OK.”
For more information or to sign up for free smoke detectors and installation, please call 753-1030.