PARKERSBURG - About 300 people turned out Saturday for the Save-A-Future safety fair at Christ United Methodist Church in Parkersburg.
Joe Fields, founder of the S.A.F.E. program, said while the number of people who came was large, they expected more but dark skies threatening rain kept the number down.
"The turnout was amazing, we had all ranges of children," he said. "We hope to have another one in a couple of months."
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Checking out a Parkersburg Fire Department truck was Nakhia McCloy, left, and Savannah Welch, as Sierra Shears looks on.
Fields said education on fire safety is an important issue in the state.
"We've lost 36 lives since January just in West Virginia. There were the six children who died in Charleston," he said. "With all of this, it made our event even that much bigger. We are not only educating our kids but educating our adults that checking that alarm is worth the time."
Michael Peacock, who helped organize the fair, said it was organized in memory of 2-year-old Ayane K. Keel and 4-year-old Aurhyana Keel, who died in the Feb. 4 fire at their home at 1335 St. Marys Ave.
"We got this together so we could donate smoke alarms to those who need them because of the two lives lost," he said. "Mainly, it's an awareness program."
Peacock said one of the features of Saturday's fair was the Safety House manned by Parkersburg Fire Department firefighters to educate children on how to get out of a house that is filling with smoke. He said they also had a hands-on simulated fire extinguisher along with letting children try on a firefighter's turn-out gear.
Members of the West Virginia National Guard were also present, along with free food and smoke detectors.
Peacock said the fair brought out many families.
"It has been an excellent turnout," he said of Saturday's program. "This is to spread the word about fire safety."
Fields said they had 44 smoke alarms to give out and all had been handed out after an hour. He said the fire department took 16 applications for free alarms.
"There was a fire house in Vienna and they gave out 16 the whole day," Fields said. "We gave away a lot more in half the time."