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Smoke Alarm Blitz volunteers put fire safety on front burner
Lt. Angie Davis and Christian Durden wait for a resident to answer the door Saturday during the Smoke Alarm Blitz at Countryside Village Mobile Home Park off of Lanier Islands Parkway. Davis is part of the training department for the Hall County Fire Services. - photo by HAILEY VAN PARYS

“It’s all about saving lives out here.”

Victoria Hunt, a volunteer with the American Red Cross, summed up the goal she and others shared Saturday while joining Hall County Fire Services for the Smoke Alarm Blitz campaign.

“We all try and pitch in and help,” said Rhonda Smith, an administrative coordinator for the Hall County Fire Services.

Smith, who spends most of her time working in the office, was happy to help outside in the field for a change.

“We’ve got a good group out here today,” Smith said. “We do whatever we can to help.”

She estimated about 18 groups helped at the Countryside Village Mobile Home Park off of Lanier Islands Parkway. Each group had about three or four members visiting residents to offer smoke alarms and five prevention tips.

One of the families accepting help were the Harcourts. Diana and Bob, who have lived in the park for the past 14 years, were grateful.

“That’s nice of them to come out,” Diana said.

The team placed three new fire alarms in their home and checked two they had installed, all free of charge. The alarms are donated by the American Red Cross. The Harcourts were also given information on fire prevention and safety.

The campaign coincided with the end of National Fire Prevention Week, Red Cross Development Director Joey Tripp said.

It was also one part of the three-part system the Red Cross advocates: preparedness, response and recovery, all met in different ways.

The preparedness step includes visiting homes that may not have proper fire alarms and informing residents. The response step focuses on providing temporary housing, financial assistance and immediate needs for families who suffer fires. The Red Cross also provides health services, including mental health, if needed.

The recovery step is completed by helping victims pick up the pieces after a fire or other tragedy. The Red Cross connects them with community partners and follows up.

“Today, we are letting homeowners know what to do in a fire safety situation,” Tripp said. “We are leaving information they can use.”

Another tip the teams provided was to ensure each family has a fire drill and practices it at least twice a year. A fire safety checklist also was issued, along with information on phone applications for more tips and tools.

“The biggest thing is the alarms, though,” Tripp said.

The Red Cross teamed up with the Hall County Fire Services to identify a community they thought would need the alarms.

“They know what the community needs,” Tripp said, crediting volunteers for their effort.

Kenrick Hunter, a student in Emergency Medical Technician school, volunteered extra time after most of his classmates were gone. He had been there since early morning, and by 3 p.m., had helped install 18 alarms in six homes.

This blitz was the largest the American Red Cross has ever hosted in Georgia, said Matthew Akins, the Preparedness Education Volunteer Contact.

“We beat the record,” Akins said.

Volunteer Chris Everett, 16, is a part of the Explorer program with Hall County Fire Services. The Flowery Branch High School student plans to be a firefighter when he graduates.

“The Explorer program helps you prep to be a firefighter,” Everett said.

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