Firefighters, church to offer smoke alarms

Neighborhood canvass slated for Saturday

Trinity Episcopal Church member Jeff Stump, left, and Parkersburg Fire Chief Jason Matthews discuss plans to walk through a city neighborhood Saturday, offering free smoke alarms to qualifying residents. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — City firefighters and volunteers from a downtown church will fan out Saturday to offer free smoke alarms and educational material to residents.

Parkersburg Fire Chief Jason Matthews said he was approached about a month ago by Trinity Episcopal Church member Jeff Stump about working together on a community project.

“We’re definitely always interested in installing smoke alarms,” Matthews said. “They’re something that easily can save a life.”

The Fire Department already offers free smoke alarms to income-qualifying residents, but occasionally gets more proactive with the program, canvassing a neighborhood with the help of community groups.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, firefighters and church volunteers will go door-to-door between Laird Avenue and Latrobe Street and Virginia Avenue and Tefft Street, inquiring if residents have working smoke alarms and how many. They’ll also be providing educational material on fire safety.

“We’re looking at giving information out to 200 houses,” Matthews said, noting they may expand beyond the established boundaries if time and supplies permit.

The chief said he appreciates Stump and the church approaching the department.

“We were trying to figure out ways to make an impact in the community,” Stump said, adding that a smoke alarm program was an example offered by the church’s diocese.

Matthews said even if a home has a working smoke alarm, “one’s not going to be enough.” There should be one on every floor and one in every room where someone sleeps, he said.

“They’re going to notify you very early of smoke or fire and allow people time to escape,” Matthews said.

He also said people should test their smoke alarm batteries monthly and make sure the entire family recognizes the sound.

Even if residents don’t qualify for a free smoke alarm, Matthews said firefighters will install them if the individuals provide the items.

More information is available by calling 304-424-8470.