By Sarah Jones
Senior Staff Writer
GRAFTON—The Grafton Fire Department and Thrasher Engineering teamed up with the American Red Cross on Friday, to install over 70 free smoke alarms in 28 residential homes across the county.
Before hitting the streets, representatives from the American Red Cross led a brief training, held in the City Council Chambers, for the members of the fire department and Thrasher, explaining the break down of how the appointments would play out.
“It means so much to us that Thrasher is involved in this event,” commented Senior Disaster Program Manager Scott Smith.
According to Smith, Jessie Kozel, Disaster Program Manager for Northeast West Virginia, orchestrated the event.
When Kozel spoke about the event last month, she shared her hopes to get at least 15 to 20 households scheduled. “Twenty-eight is a great number! It is just a great feeling to be helping so many people,” expressed Kozel.
Kozel had the volunteers spilt up into five groups, to more efficiently cover the areas, and reported that the majority of appointments were located on Maple Avenue.
“If you remember the hail storm that hit the area in April, Maple Avenue was one of the hardest hit areas, so it’s good to be helping them out with this today,” remarked Kozel.
Each group consisted of appointed installers, an educator, and a member to gather information for the service forms. While the installation team worked to replace and test smoke alarms, the educator helped the families to devise an emergency escape plan from the home, in the event of a fire.
The alarms that were installed were ten-year ionized alarms, reportedly to be better functioning and longer lasting then those that use a nine-volt battery.
Volunteers were instructed to change batteries in existing smoke alarms if they were less than five years old. However, if an alarm existed in the home more than five years old, it was to be replaced, even if it was still functioning.
“Functioning smoke alarms save lives,” said Kozel. “It was confirmed that we have helped to save a life in West Virginia. None of the other smoke alarms in the house went off. However, the ones we had installed did, which allowed the family to evacuate safely.”
Grafton Fire Chief Dave Crimm expressed, that the fire department was happy to be a part of the event.
“Anytime we can participate in an event like this, we are happy to do so. It is very important for homes to be equipped with functioning smoke alarms,” commented Crimm.