Randy Camp

Catoosa County Fire Chief Randy Camp, during the Dec. 19 Board of Commissioner's meeting, talks about his department's recent installation of nearly 1,000 smoke alarms in homes throughout the county. (Catoosa News photo/Adam Cook)

The Catoosa County Fire Department has been making a big difference in the community over the past few months by installing smoke alarms in homes throughout the community through their partnership with the American Red Cross.

Chief Randy Camp informed the Catoosa County Board of Commissioners of his department's work during the Dec. 19 commission meeting, at which time the board approved moving forward with another grant related to the effort.

"We got the smoke alarm grant we received from the American Red Cross, and we'll be applying for another one within the next 60 days," Camp said. "The initial one was for 150 smoke alarms, of which we've installed 97 to this date. We feel like we'll install the rest of them over the next 60 days and continue on as long as it becomes available.

Camp says the new grant will be for another 150 alarms that his department hopes to install to those throughout the community.

The department has held "smoke alarm blitzes" in consecutive months as a way to get out in the community and install the alarms in areas of need.

Blitzes near Scruggs Road and the one conducted in December in the Greens Lake community were target areas due their history of fires.

"Both of these areas were targeted due to the fact that we've had quite a bit of structure fires, more than what we have in other areas of the county," Camp said. "In Greens Lake, we installed 89 smoke alarms on a Saturday (in December). So, with that, it's been a savings to our citizens at $25 per smoke alarm."

Camp says the installation hasn't created overtime as far as his budget goes, even though the extra work is being done.

"No one's making any overtime to install them," he said. "We use current members on staff or that are on duty that day, and then we try to work it out and schedule it so that when they're already outside doing job assignments...we try to conduct it when they're already out and about."

Camp says the partnership with Red Cross has been a success in helping to prevent and raise community awareness.

"It's a good service," Camp said. "Especially if it ever saves a life, it will definitely be worth the money. People are very thankful that they're getting smoke alarms and that we're installing them."

Per the grant, trained members of the department have to administer the installation.

"We have to install them is the key," Camp said. "We can't just hand them out. So, we have to go out and make sure that they have the right number, are installed in the right places, the paperwork is filled out, and then the paperwork is submitted back to Red Cross on a monthly basis."

"This is really a great service we provide for our citizens," Commissioner Jim Cutler said.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.