3Q's: Cathy Gault, Tupelo fire marshal

By NEMS Daily Journal

The Tupelo Fire Department has a program in place that helps residents get smoke detectors for their homes for free. Tupelo Fire Marshal Cathy Gault discussed the benefits of the program and smoke detectors in general with Daily Journal Regional Editor Stephanie Rebman.
Q: Tell me about the smoke detector program. How long have you been doing this and how do you get them to the public?
A: The smoke detector program has been in place since around 1995. We have been able to do this with the help of small grants.
We do not charge for the smoke detectors. The battery-operated smoke detectors that we purchased with grant money we either give away or install. We would rather come and install them so that they are installed in the correct location.

Q: Who benefits from the free smoke detectors?
A: We install the smoke detectors for our high-risk groups like single mothers with small children on a limited income who cannot afford them. The other high-risk group is senior citizens.
Anyone can benefit from the smoke detectors from the State Fire Marshal’s Office as long as they meet the criteria: live in Tupelo, own their home and let us install them.

Q: Why do you give away the detectors?
A: Smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a reported fire in half. That is a big reason right there.
Smoke detectors are going to be the first thing to let you know that you have a fire in your home so you can get out.
The key thing is maintenance. You have to make sure that they work. At Tupelo FD it is our job to help people, whether that is a medical call, car accident, house fire, etc.
We are here to save lives and property. Sometimes it is the proactive measures we take by installing smoke detectors that save lives and it is worth every bit of the time we put in installing them.
Material possessions can always be replaced, but a human life is something you can’t get back.
There is nothing like hearing the sound of the resident’s voice when you get on scene and they tell you the smoke detector in their home woke them up and saved their life.