The Mount Airy Fire Department will distribute free smoke alarms in a city neighborhood next week as part of an ongoing campaign to make homes safer.
“We have installed nearly 600 smoke alarms in the past three years within the city,” Fire Chief Zane Poindexter reported Friday regarding a program that targets areas determined to be at a high risk for fires.
Next week that will include Marshall, Durham and Depot streets.
Fire department personnel will canvass those locations from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday offering smoke alarms.
They plan to knock on doors and request permission to check the smoke-alarm needs inside each home.
The devices will be installed at locations without alarms and existing ones that have expired are to be replaced, as part of firefighters’ efforts to ensure each location has adequate warning systems. If needed, batteries will be put in detectors already on the premises.
Fire personnel will end their visit with a fire safety talk to highlight the need for escape plans and other precautions.
Seventy-five smoke alarms will be available for next week’s canvass. They are provided to Mount Airy through a partnership between the American Red Cross and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
In selecting the locations for smoke alarm distributions, the city fire department relies on information from the Surry County 911 center to pinpoint areas where fires have been more prevalent, and the findings of a risk assessment conducted in 2011.
Poindexter said the department conducts the smoke alarm campaigns on a rotating schedule. “We try to identify one place in the north and one place at the southern end (of town) to do our canvass,” he said.
“We do two canvasses a year — this is our spring canvass,” the fire chief said of next week’s visits to the southern neighborhood. The department hopes to conduct another in October in a northern area.
The campaign, which has occurred in at least eight neighborhoods so far, is making a difference, Poindexter believes.
“We feel the city is a safer place because of this program, and we have had tangible results,” he explained.
“One of the smoke alarms we had installed in a canvassed area alerted occupants to a cooking fire on the south end of the city that occurred in 2016.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.