COVINGTON, Ga. – The Covington Fire Department, in partnership with the American Red Cross, is on a mission to set a record for the most smoke alarms installed in one day and is looking for volunteers to help make it happen.
“Two or three years ago we had a big smoke alarm drive and we put in pretty close to 350 smoke alarms in the city limits,” Jonathan Fuqua, of CFD fire marshal’s office, said. “We are going to do that again in September.
“We’re looking at expanding and doing between 400 and 600 smoke alarms this time.”
Fuqua said the drive will be focused in two areas of the city, the Nelson Heights and Green Acres community. CFD will pre-canvas the area Sept. 10 to inform residents about the drive and help with pre-registration.
“This is a nationwide initiative for the Red Cross,” Fuqua said. “They’re providing the alarms and everything to put them in with – all the paperwork, all the utensils, all the tools, everything. We just need personnel.”
Fuqua said CFD will partner with Newton County Fire Rescue to also provide alarms in Porterdale residents during the drive. Porterdale residents must be pre-registered to receive the smoke alarms. Pre-registration can be done by calling 404-876-3302.
CFD is looking for volunteers Sept. 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. to help install the smoke alarms as well as record information.
‘I need people to hold pens, hold drills, talk, wear the shirt, whatever we can do,” CFD Deputy Chief Joe Doss said. “The more people we have, the more we have a chance to install. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Doss said smoke alarms are able to provide people with the alert they need to get out of their homes.
“For years, we were told that a fire doubles in size every minute based on the construction and materials and stuff like that,” he said. “With current construction, which is getting cheaper, and with the current synthetic materials that are used, it’s not lasting that long.”
Doss said while smoke alarms are installed in your home, it is also important to make sure they are up to date.
“We have people that have them hard-wired in their home from the early 90s,” he said. “Now we’re dealing with something running on 25 to 30 years of age if they’ve never changed them. The ones we’re actually getting, you don’t change the batteries on them. It is a 10-year battery, so essentially you would take it off the wall and throw it away when it dies.
“That’s what we’re going to run into when we go into these houses. It’s the ‘Oh, I’ve got one,’ but we ask ‘Have you checked it? Have you ever heard it go off? Do you ever burn your food and hear it sound an alarm?’”
Doss said the overall goal is safety for the citizens.
“That’s our ultimate goal to keep the citizens safe,” he said.
Fuqua said the largest smoke alarm drive was done in Rockdale County a few years ago with 572 alarms installed.
“We don’t want to do 573,” Doss said. “We’re pushing to try to do 700.”
While CFD will be out and about Sept. 29 installing smoke alarms, the service is available to citizens anytime they are in need.
“Anytime you can call your local fire department, they should have alarms on hand and come out to install them for you for free,” Fuqua said.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the drive is asked to call Josh Johnson at 678-522-3483.
“It’s not just donating their time,” Doss said. “The incentives are going to be, if you come we’re going to give you breakfast. If you come, we’re going to teach you how to do it. We’re going to break off into teams and then we’re going to go do it for a while. We’re going to feed you lunch. The whole time, you’re also going to get to wear that nice new t-shirt.”
The day will start at CFD’s Alcovy Road fire station and Doss hopes to have 50 to 75 volunteers participating.
“It’s going to be a fun day and we’re going to help people,” he said.