A blaze that killed a father and four children in eastern Kentucky has led to a renewed focus on fire prevention.
Pike County Firefighters Association President Randy Courtney told the Appalachian News-Express that nine of the 26 fire departments in the county met recently in an effort to form a group dedicated to fire prevention. In addition, fire departments across the county are handing out free smoke alarms to area residents thanks to a donation from Kidde Fire Safety. Courtney says local businesses have pledged money to purchase more when those run out.
“It’s going really well,” he said about the smoke detector initiative. “People are really responding well to this and I’m getting calls every day from people wondering when more are going to get here.”
Both the Southside Mall and East Kentucky Broadcasting, as well as members of the public, have offered donations to pay for more devices as they are needed.
He said donations of any amount are accepted and appreciated.
“If someone donates $100 and we find them for $10 apiece, we’ll buy 10 smoke detectors,” he said. “If we find them for $7 apiece, we’ll buy more. That’s what this is all about. Getting these devices in people’s homes.”
The efforts stem from the Jan. 6 blaze in Jonancy that killed a father and four small children and severely injured their mother. Fire officials say the home did not have a smoke detector.
Courtney said it has led to a countywide focus on prevention through other means as well. He said officials are hoping that the fire prevention group includes at least one firefighter or emergency responder from each department.
Shelby Valley Fire Chief Darrell Compton, whose department was the first to the Jonancy blaze, pleaded with residents to use fire prevention techniques to make their homes safer.
“Practice fire safety,” he said. “Install smoke detectors and be prepared in the event of a fire. The most important thing is to get out. If there is a fire, get out and let us get there and do what we’re trained to do.”
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