Town/Gown Project Improves Community Fire Readiness in Walker County, GA

Town/Gown Fire Safety Community Service Project banner with people holding it

Rock Spring, GA – Several students have added fire safety to their class schedule this fall.  Walker County Fire Rescue and Georgia Northwestern Technical College are partnering with First Alert, along with Campus Firewatch and the Michael H. Minger Foundation, to participate in the third annual Town/Gown Fire Safety Community Service Project.  Students and residents will be able to learn the importance of fire safety and work alongside firefighters to properly equip homes with combination smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms.

As part of the Town/Gown Fire Safety Community Service Project, Walker County Fire Rescue was chosen, along with 24 other departments nationwide, to host community events. Georgia Northwestern Technical College students will work alongside firefighters to conduct home safety visits in at-risk communities and install 100 combination smoke and CO alarms donated by First Alert.

“The Town/Gown Project is a great opportunity to further educate our community and students about the importance of fire and CO safety, and equip many homes with needed alarms,” said Chief Blake Hodge of Walker County Fire Rescue. “Reducing the risk of fatal fires – by providing adequate protection – helps make our community stronger and safer.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three out of four fires occur in the home, the very place that most people feel the safest.

“The NFPA reports when a home does have working smoke alarms, it cuts the fatality risk of home fires in half,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert. “Smoke alarms are one of the best, and easiest, solutions to enhance home safety. And, by partnering with Campus Firewatch and the Michael H. Minger Foundation for the Town/Gown project, we are able to both educate communities about fire safety and install alarms for a long-lasting impact.”

“Collaboration between students, fire departments and universities works to create a stronger, safer community,” said Ed Comeau, founder of Campus Firewatch. “Enabling students to learn fire safety by doing fire safety provides an important life skill for them and those around them.”

“Gaining real-world knowledge with regard to smoke and CO alarm placement and maintenance is an invaluable opportunity for these students,” said Gail Minger, president of the Michael H. Minger Foundation. “The Town/Gown project truly offers a unique volunteer opportunity to both support the community and work with fire safety professionals in a capacity many would not otherwise experience.”

Fire Safety Do’s and Don’ts

In order to protect what matters most in the event of a fire or CO emergency, Walker County Fire Rescue recommends careful preparation and planning:

  • Do: Check where your alarms are placed. The U.S. Fire Administration and NFPA advise that homes have smoke alarms installed inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. For CO alarms, homes should have at least one alarm on each level and one in or near every sleeping area.
  • Don’t: Install it, then forget it. Smoke alarms don’t last forever and should be replaced every 10 years. And don’t assume your alarm is working properly; test it monthly and change the batteries at least once a year or if a low battery chirp occurs. Alarms with a 10-year sealed battery provide hassle-free protection, eliminating the risk of forgetting to change the batteries or having an alarm deactivated due to battery removal.
  • Do: Make and practice an escape plan. It is essential to plan an emergency escape route and practice it at least twice a year. This ensures that everyone knows how to evacuate the home safely and where to meet, in the event of an emergency.

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