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Fire crews help residents lower risks with smoke detectors, safety tips
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Kecia Thomas gets her blood sugar and blood pressure checked Saturday by Sean McGuire, a Hall County firefighter and EMT, at Glory Tabernacle Ministries as a part of Hall County Fire Services’ Community Risk Reduction program. Blood pressure checks, installations of smoke alarms and fire safety information goodie bags were provided free of charge to those in the Floyd Road area during the event. - photo by Erin O. Smith

It was a good day to be Louise Thomas.

The Gainesville resident was on her way to her brother’s house Saturday when she passed Bethel Church of the Nazarene on Garden Drive. She passes by the church regularly — it’s less than half a mile from her home on Tulip Drive — but there were two firetrucks and an ambulance parked out front that caught her eye.

There was also a sign, adorning one of the trucks facing the road, that she noticed.

“I saw ‘Free’ and wanted to stop,” Thomas said.

The sign was advertising free smoke alarm and carbon monoxide installations and blood pressure checks. Thomas got her blood pressure checked, as well as her blood sugar.

“I haven’t been to the doctor in 37 years. Last time I went they gave me bad news,” Louise Thomas said.

Once her checkup was finished, she gave her address to the team and agreed to let them come out to her home to install new smoke detectors free of charge.

“I feel like I need to take them a sandwich tray or something,” she said.

A team of three of Fire Station 1’s finest, including Justin Whitfield, Stephen Robinson and Nathan DeFoor, then went out to her house. They put in five new smoke detectors, most of which just needed replacing, but one was new.

Replacing fire alarms is something the service team does year-round.

“You change them twice a year, when the time changes. That way you can keep up with it,” Lt. Rhett Tyner said.

It’s also important to do safety checks in the home.

“We respond to a lot of falls,” Captain Zachary Brackett said.

In most cases, he said, rugs are the main cause.

“Everybody has rugs,” Brackett said. “But when you get older, you don’t pick up your feet as much. We give advice on how to correct that.”

Hall County Fire Services also brought out their team to increase awareness for fire safety, passing out goodie bags with informational packets and other items.

“Once the kids get involved, they’re pretty receptive,” Tyner said. “It’s important for us to reach out in the community.”

This outreach program, formally known as the Community Risk Reduction Program, “allows field personnel to identify needs within their district and address those through projects and education,” Brackett said.

“It is intended to provide assessment for the needs of the area community in regards to smoke alarms and fire safety education,” Brackett said.

The group will reconvene next weekend from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Rucker Memorial on Floyd Road, and at Glory Tabernacle on the same road the following weekend at the same time.

Regional events