Captain Lee Edmonds was the guest of honor on WIZS’ Tuesday edition of Town Talk to discuss the Henderson Fire Department’s annual smoke detector and battery inspection program.
Started in 2009 after a Vance County family lost several of their children to a house fire, Edmonds said the door-to-door home inspection program is “a good opportunity to check houses and check smoke detectors to make sure everything is working properly.”
The inspection, which begins anew each November following Fire Prevention Month in October, is free of charge to City of Henderson residents. “We put new batteries in smoke detectors, replace old smoke detectors and install smoke detectors in places that did not previously have them,” said Edmonds.
Edmonds estimated that the department has visited approximately seventy-five percent of homes in Henderson and hopes to wrap up the 2018 campaign by September. “Every year we visit approximately 6,000 homes and are allowed into approximately 1,500.”
Two fire trucks consisting of a team of 8-10 fire department personnel go door-to-door every Friday in an effort to reach as many homes as possible. “If you see our fire truck on your street or nearby on a Friday, chances are we’re just inspecting and installing smoke detectors,” Edmonds said.
Last year, fire department personnel were able to replace 97 smoke detectors and 119 batteries. This year, Edmonds reported 127 smoke detectors have already been replaced during the campaign.
“We aren’t able to get into all of the homes we visit because either people aren’t home or they say they regularly check their batteries and smoke detectors,” said Edmonds. “If they aren’t home, we leave a note on their door asking them to call us so we can come back out.”
Knowing that residents are often at work during the weekday, Edmonds said the fire department will come back after 5 p.m., on weekends or “whatever is best for the homeowner.”
In addition to being free of charge to homeowners, the smoke detectors and batteries are often free of charge to the fire department as well. According to Edmonds, many of the items have been donated over the years from various organizations, although 2018 has proven to be a challenge. “This year has been a bit of a tough year for donations. We had to spend some of our department funds on smoke detectors.”
Another challenge this year is the sky-rocketing number of fire-related deaths in North Carolina. Edmonds reported that 2018 has already been the deadliest year in recently recorded history. “In 2017, there were 79 fire-related deaths total in NC,” said Edmonds. “There have already been 94 fire-related deaths so far in 2018.”
Fire-related deaths are often attributed to a family’s unawareness of danger due to non-functioning or non-existent smoke detectors.
“Most deaths are the result of not having a working smoke detector in the home to alert the homeowner to a fire,” said Edmonds. “Many fires, especially in Henderson, are cooking-related – someone starts to cook something and then walks into another room and gets distracted or falls asleep.”
With the number of fire-related deaths climbing and the number of smoke detectors that either need new batteries or complete replacement, the Henderson Fire Department urges residents to check their detectors regularly and to allow fire department personnel inside their home during the annual door-to-door campaign.
With questions regarding your smoke detector, fire safety or to schedule a time for an inspection, please call the Henderson Fire Department at (252) 430-1877.
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