Houston & Peach

Fire safety blitz coming Saturday in Centerville

CENTERVILLE -- Firefighters and American Red Cross workers are taking a fire-preparedness campaign into about 200 homes Saturday.

“It’s basically a public safety blitz,” said Centerville Assistant Fire Chief David Bostick.

Red Cross workers and city firefighters hope to canvass homes in two subdivisions within six hours. The plan is to teach people how to be prepared for home fires and install smoke detectors at no cost where needed.

The Westover Hills Grove Manor and Valle Venda subdivisions were chosen for the initiative because they include some of the older homes in Centerville. The homes are also grouped close together, which will allow firefighters to reach more homes in one campaign, Bostick said.

The effort is expected to get underway at 10 a.m. and wrap up about 3 p.m.

The blitz is part of an American Red Cross nationwide campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries.

“Installing smoke alarms cuts the risk of someone dying from a home fire in half, so we’re joining with groups from across our community to install smoke alarms,” Larry Miller, a disaster program specialist for the American Red Cross of Central Midwest Georgia, said in a release.

According to the Red Cross, a fire death is reported seven times a day in the U.S. The agency hopes to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from home fires by 25 percent over the next five years.

“Smoke alarms do save lives,” Centerville Fire Chief Jason Jones said. “We want to make sure everyone has one.”

While Saturday’s campaign targets two subdivisions, Jones noted that the fire department offers free smoke detectors and help with installing them year-round. He said most fire departments across Middle Georgia do the same.

Multiple smoke detectors are recommended, including one on each level of a home, in bedrooms, outside sleeping quarters and near living quarters such as a den or living room.

Checking existing smoke detectors routinely and practicing fire drills are simple steps that the Red Cross says are guaranteed to save lives. Each room of a home should have two identified fire exits with the plan to get out within two minutes in the event of a fire.

Most of the more than 70,000 disasters that the Red Cross responds to nationwide each year are home fires. In Houston County, the Red Cross responded to more than 80 home fires in 2014.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.