NCBAM Targets Fire-Risk Areas in North Carolina

THOMASVILLE, N.C. -- In March of 2014, North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) received seven of 50 “Smoke Alarm and Home Safety Grants” awarded by the Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM)—one for each of NCBAM’s six regional directors to administer and one for the ministry’s Call Center with its statewide outreach. The purpose of the grant was to identify areas with the highest rates for fire injuries and fatalities, and provide smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, deaf and hard-of-hearing alarms, safety incentives, educational and group presentation materials, and tool kits for alarm installation.

NCBAM serves aging adults 65 and over—a demographic at highest risk of being injured or dying in a house fire. In North Carolina in 2013, 23 of 65 fire fatalities were aging adults. The NCBAM regional directors targeted areas with the most need, and along with OSFM staff, presented educational workshops at senior centers and North Carolina Baptist churches. High risk neighborhoods were canvassed and residents needing smoke alarms were provided with 10-year lithium battery alarms.

The grant program wrapped up in July—with North Carolina Baptists bringing increased safety to 581 households in North Carolina. According to Dr. Sandy Gregory, director of NCBAM, several “saves” have already been reported. In these incidents, the occupants were alerted to a fire and were able to escape and call the fire department. “If the fires had occurred prior to the home visits and installation of new alarms, the results could have been tragic. It’s gratifying to know that the program has already made a difference.”

NCBAM’s west regional director Anita Davie commented, “This grant brought much-needed information on fire prevention and safety to aging adults who are most in need. At senior centers, the folks especially appreciated the oven mitts and night lights we distributed. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that some aging adults don’t have an extra dollar for these type things.”

According to Angie Gregg, Injury Prevention Specialist at the OSFM, the grant program was a huge success. “It’s great to know that at-risk areas are now protected. We were surprised by the number of homes without smoke alarms or with alarms that were over 10 years old.”

NCBAM also partners with the OSFM to conduct smoke alarm installation trainings—which provide free grant-funded alarms for attendees to install in the homes of aging adults in their communities. Regarding the strong partnership between NCBAM and the OSFM, Gregory stated, “We value our partnership with the Office of State Fire Marshal. The needs are great and we accomplish more working together.”

Information about NCBAM
North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) has been connecting aging adults (65 and older) with resources to meet their needs since 2009. Through partnerships with more than 4,000 North Carolina Baptist churches and other organizations, NCBAM responds to the needs of aging adults with approaches that are on the cutting edge of ministry and culture.

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