Ed. — Originally published in the Sunday, March 14, print edition.
KNOTTS ISLAND, N.C. — Public safety officials visited residents in the Sandy Point community to check smoke detectors and, as needed, install them at no charge.
The safety campaign in Sandy Point earlier this month came after the tragic death of a young woman in a fire on the 100 block of Porchard Lane on Thursday, Feb. 11. Jenna White, 24, died in the fire. Fire and EMS Deputy Chief Tim Riley said an investigation showed there was no smoke detector in the home. Officials have tried to reinforce how smoke detectors save lives by giving people time to escape.
Officials and volunteers with the Currituck County Fire & Emergency Medical Services Department, assisted by rescue officials from neighboring Virginia Beach, knocked on doors throughout the community, offering to check detectors and replace or provide them to those who needed them.
There was no charge for this. The smoke detectors were paid for by grants through the Virginia Beach Fire Department and the North Carolina State Fire Marshal’s Office.
In one mobile home on Saturday, March 6, a team from the county was welcomed in to install smoke detectors. A team consisting of Currituck County Lt. Chris Bailey, Firefighter Andelyn Czajka and Firefighter/Paramedic Tom Watson placed new smoke detectors near bedrooms and near – but not too near – the kitchen.
“We’ll back it up a little bit,” Bailey told the homeowner while they determined where to put one near the kitchen. “That way it doesn’t hit every time you fry bacon.”
“Thank you for letting us into your home,” Czajka said on the way out.
At another home, the resident Patricia Sauer, was thankful for new smoke detectors. She said she had made a point to be home because she knew public safety officials would be doing outreach in the community. “I appreciate this,” she said. “God knows, I don’t want to die in a fire. I feel safer. It’s just that it’s a great thing that you all are doing.”
Jessica Xenakis, the life safety supervisor for the Virginia Beach Fire Department, said that department was glad to be able to assist its neighbor by providing smoke detectors to people who need them.
“They’re going to do better on someone’s wall or ceiling than on the shelf,” she said.
Knotts Island residents can call (252) 429-3536 if they need assistance with smoke detectors.
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