Eight-year-old Isaija Hodge helped his 86-year-old great grandmother and four-year-old Chihuahua safely escape a home fire this week, thanks to working smoke alarms and fire safety lessons he learned at school.
In October, smoke alarms were installed in the home by the Covington, VA, Fire Department and Rescue Squad in coordination with the American Red Cross’ smoke alarm installation program. Around the same time, Isaija and his classmates were visited by Sparky the Fire Dog and the fire department, who taught fire safety lessons to students, including how to call 911 and get outside safely.
Isaija was clearly paying attention: When he heard a crash in the front of the house, he went to see what happened and saw flames and smoke coming from the porch. Then the smoke alarms began to sound. Isaija found his great-grandmother and dog, grabbed a cellphone on their way out and dialed 911.
“The prevention part is the key to any fire department,” said Kevin Pettitt, fire chief of the Covington Fire Department and Rescue Squad, who spearheaded the school visits and the smoke alarm installation program. “Education of kids is critical.”
Sadly, a series of deadly fires in Worcester, MA, this year, including one that occurred earlier this week, reinforces the consequences of not having basic fire safety measures like working smoke alarms in place.
Deputy Chief John Sullivan of the Worcester Fire Department noted that they’re doing all they can to remind residents about the extreme importance of working smoke alarms. “It is frustrating when we have these cases of no working smoke detectors or, in this case, none at all,” said Deputy Chief Sullivan. “We’re trying to do everything we know within budget constraints to get that message out.”
Photo courtesy of Amy Friedenberger/The Roanoke Times