The Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD) has received a federal grant to purchase top of the line smoke detectors for area residents.
The department will receive more than $70,000 from the federal government to purchase the detectors, through a FEMA fire prevention safety grant. The grant, which is funded 75 percent by FEMA and 25 percent by the MVFD, means that the total amount will add up to more than $88,000.
"Since it is a share grant we have to kick in 25 percent, which will be a little less than $18,000," said MVFD assistant chief Rusty Griffith.
The grant will allow the department to purchase 2,000 units with 10-year lithium batteries, plus an additional 500 batteries.
According to Griffith, 20 percent of homes with smoke detectors have units that do not work, while four percent of homes do not have a smoke detector at all. He said the risk of a fire related death or injury greatly decreases in homes with working detectors.
"Our goal is to have at least one working unit in each home in the district," he said. "It greatly improves the chance of survival."
He said he hopes to have the process completed by the end of the year, so that by the beginning of 2013 they will be ready to hand out the units. Once MVFD receives the final go ahead from FEMA they will request bids to purchase the detectors. He estimated that within 12-18 months the department will have handed out the units and completed the program.
Griffith said the department was thrilled to receive the grant, because it is a competitive process.
"You don't always expect to get a competitive grant," he said.
The district, which covers 165 square miles and serves nearly 70,000 people, runs strictly off paid part-time staffing and volunteers. Last year they answered almost 4,000 calls. With a limited staff and budget constraints, fire prevention is key to the department.
"We will target areas where our fire deaths occur first," Griffith said, adding that the department will come and install the units for free.
To secure one of the free 10-year smoke detectors, Griffith said be on the lookout for an announcement on the departments web page at magnoliafire.org. For more information call 281-356-3288.