Lamar County to install 946 smoke alarms

By HASKEL BURNS,

More than 900 Lamar County residents – specifically the elderly, handicapped and children – are being provided with free fire alarms, made possible by a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The grant, which came through the Mississippi Department of Insurance, was announced at last Thursday’s meeting of the Lamar County Board of Supervisors.

“We’ve participated in this grant several times in the past, so we’ve already installed several thousand smoke detectors,” Lamar County Fire Coordinator George Stevens said. “They save lives, and that’s our number one job.

“They probably accomplish more than we know. If somebody leaves something on the stove, and the smoke alarm goes off before it lights up, that’s a call we didn’t have to make, that’s a house that didn’t catch fire, and that’s a possible fatality we didn’t have.”

The smoke alarms, which have 10-year batteries, are being installed around the county by two firemen from Lamar County fire protection services. So far, more than 200 alarms have been installed.

“We’ve saved peoples’ lives (with smoke detectors) before,” Stevens said. “We have two documented cases where smoke detectors that we’ve put in saved the lives of three people.

“We’ve got 90 days to put them in, so I think we’ll be alright on that.”

In addition, the Plains Pipeline Company recently awarded Lumberton Volunteer Fire Department with a $5,000 equipment grant that will be used for the purchase of new battery-operated cutters. Supervisors accepted a bid from TNT as the lowest and best bid for the cutters, which can be used in conjunction with the Jaws of Life hydraulic rescue tools.

Stevens said the cutters will be especially helpful in the case of newer-model vehicles, which often are made of alloys that are difficult for older equipment to cut.

“We’ll also be going from hydraulic-operated tools to battery-operated tools – that’s the new generation, so that’s how we’re going,” Stevens said. “So that’ll help us get people out of the car quicker.

“They might be bleeding or they might have been shot, so that’s going to get them to the hospital quicker.”