When lightning struck her great aunt's house and caused a fire, Kathy Abrams felt sad that her aunt died because she never heard an alarm go off. Her aunt did not have a smoke detector in her country home.
Abrams, a member of First United Methodist Church in Jackson, Tennessee, and others started Operation Inasmuch, a mission-outreach project. Working in partnership with the Madison County Fire Department, they began delivering free smoke detectors from their satellite church, Andrews Chapel, to the rural community of Huntersville.
Firefighters and 20 church volunteers visited 110 homes and delivered a dozen smoke detectors to those who wanted them. The group left information at the doors of homeowners who were not present in order to make sure everyone had a chance to get a free smoke detector.
"In this community, it's important for people to have smoke detectors," said Abrams. "The fire department is not close by to the residents."
"Tennessee has a high fire-death rate," said Don Friddle, Madison County fire marshal. "Smoke detectors are the No. 1 defense against (being injured or killed in) a home fire," he said. "The church and we are making a collaborative effort to get out into the community to make sure everyone has a smoke detector installed."
The fire department ensures that the smoke detectors are installed properly and that people are educated about caring for them such as changing batteries when needed. In October – during Fire Prevention Month – the church and firefighters plan to hand-deliver smoke detectors to residents in the downtown Jackson area.
A grant given to the Madison County Fire Department funds the free smoke detectors. Operation Inasmuch plans to do other outreach projects as its motto is "Motivate, train and equip church members to get out of the building to serve the neediest in the community."
AT A GLANCE First United Methodist Church | 200 S. Church St., Jackson, TN 38301 | 731-422-4002 | [email protected] | www.jacksonfumc.org | Rev. J. Daniel Camp | Average Attendance: 437 | Memphis Conference