The next several weeks, Jeff Huddleston, the Fire Prevention education officer for the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO), will hand out thousands of smoke alarms to fire departments across Tennessee.
City of Sharon residents can take advantage of the smoke alarm giveaway by contacting city hall at 456-2122. The Sharon Fire Department was chosen to participate in the state-wide program.
Huddleston loaded 2,000 alarms in his truck Wednesday morning before setting out on a three-day sweep through West Tennessee. Subsequent giveaways are planned for the rest of the state in the coming weeks.
“We talk about the importance of having and maintaining operable smoke alarms in the home all the time,” Huddleston says. “This multi-week effort will go a long way toward increasing fire safety in countless homes and neighborhoods across the state.”
State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak, who also is the commissioner of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, stresses that the free smoke alarms will only be as effective as Tennesseans allow them to be. “Too often, we hear of fire deaths in the news, and the deaths often occur in homes without operable smoke alarms. Smoke alarms save lives.
“We urge all who have smoke alarms in their homes to test them every month and to replace their batteries regularly – Daylight Saving Time is an easy-to-remember time,” she says. “Even if your alarm is outfitted with special, years-lasting batteries, be sure to test them regularly.”
Huddleston will pass out alarms in Middle Tennessee in the first week of March. On March 8, Fire Service Day at the State Capitol, he will pass out alarms to the East Tennessee fire departments gathered on the Hill.
Fire Prevention passes out as many as 8,000 smoke alarms in a given year. McPeak says the SFMO would like to do more.
“The department has applied for a Fire Prevention and Safety grant, which is part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) under FEMA’s Grant Programs Directorate. That grant would enable Jeff to pass out even more alarms next year, as many as 15,000.”
The SFMO will know later in the fall whether it has won the grant.