published Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Chattanooga firefighters offer free smoke alarms on Rawlings Street after fatal fire

Chattanooga firefighters canvassed the neighborhood around Rawlings Street early this morning, offering free smoke alarms and replacement batteries to residents.

The initiative came after the fatal fire Monday morning at 2014 Rawlings Street that left one child dead and the mother and a second child badly burned.

“We want to be proactive,” said Fire Marshall James Whitmire. “We don’t like to have to do this after the fact.”

But the charred and boarded up shell of the home serves as a powerful reminder of the devastation an unexpected fire can cause. Neighbors welcomed the firefighters into their homes, many still visibly shaken from the tragedy.

“You never know what’ll happen,” said Dorothy Jones, who has lived in the house across the street from the scene of the fire for over 15 years.

The Chattanooga Fire Department canvasses at-risk neighborhoods twice a year with the Red Cross and once at Christmas time with Santa trucks distributing toys to children.

“It’s nice to give them these toys and know that they also have a safe smoke alarm in the home with them,” Whitmire said.

The Fire Department recommends at least one smoke alarm on each level of a home. But they also say it’s good to have one alarm outside every sleeping area and one outside the kitchen.

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