March 7, 2013 10:17:25 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
Firefighters aren't known for delivering presents, but Starkville residents may soon find a first responder holding a valuable gift at their doorsteps.
Starkville Fire Marshal Mark McCurdy says firefighters will begin distributing 360 free smoke detectors in two weeks to homeowners in low-income neighborhoods.
Yearly, Starkville Fire Department receives a number of smoke detectors for distribution through the State Fire Marshal's Office in Jackson. Previously, McCurdy said, homeowners interested in receiving a free detector had to call SFD, but now firefighters will canvas neighborhoods over the next three months and deliver the detectors.
The distribution program will target individual homes, not apartment complexes - owners of these properties are responsible for placing smoke detectors in each unit - or government housing, McCurdy said. Firefighters will continue delivering smoke detectors until they run out or officials believe they have adequately serviced the town.
Each household is entitled to one free smoke detector.
"It's peace of mind. It gives us peace of mind knowing our residents are protected, and it should give residents peace of mind knowing they're protected," Starkville Fire Chief Rodger Mann said.
McCurdy traveled to Jackson Monday and procured 360 alarms. The smoke detectors cost about $25 each, he said, and come with a 10-year battery.
"We'll come out on a pretty day, canvas the neighborhood and visit with homeowners to see if they are in need of these detectors. Homeowners are free to say no, but we'll come in and install a detector if they ask us to," McCurdy said. "We'll even come in and check their current smoke detectors to see if they're in proper working order. For those who have the means to purchase smoke detectors, we'll even install those.
"The goal here is to at least have one working smoke detector in every Starkville home," he added.
Residents can still contact firefighters at Fire Station No. 1 and request a free smoke detector, McCurdy said.
Last month, smoke inhalation killed an 86-year-old Starkville resident and injured another after a cigarette sparked a bedroom fire at Everglade Avenue residence.
The residence did not have smoke detectors, SFD officials said.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch