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Residents honored for their help with fire prevention initiative

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It wasn’t a trail of smoke but a trail of smoke detectors that one area resident left in her path when she recently answered a call for assistance from Burlington’s fire department.

Lisa Stewart, a resident of Burlington’s Morrowtown community, ultimately helped the city’s fire department distribute some four dozen smoke alarms as part of a statewide, fire-prevention initiative that took place earlier this month.

Dubbed “Smoke Alarm Saturday,” this venture on Saturday, June 1 saw personnel from local fire departments visit homes throughout North Carolina to check household smoke detectors and install new ones if needed. In each case, the departments were able to distribute these devices pro bono thanks to consignments of free smoke alarms from the office of the state fire marshal.

This year, Burlington’s allocation of smoke detectors apparently came just in the nick of time – as the city’s fire chief Matt Lawrence recalled in a formal presentation to Burlington’s city council on Tuesday.

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Lawrence told the city’s elected leaders that he and his colleagues received a shipment of 48 detectors shortly before the first of the month, and with zero hour approaching, they decided to focus their efforts on the Morrowtown Community – a historically black neighborhood that lies a few blocks south of downtown. Lawrence added that he and his colleagues were able to secure some additional support from the Morrowtown Community Group, which sent out a call for volunteers to some of its more active members.

Stewart, who was on hand for Lawrence’s presentation, recalled that she agreed to pitch in with this effort despite having to cancel some prior commitments to answer the fire department’s last-minute request.

“That Friday I drove around block by block, door-to-door,” she told the city council on Tuesday, “and when they came Saturday morning, I had 25 names on my list…I had a lot of seniors on my list, and they were very grateful.”

Stewart’s diligence also earned the gratitude of Lawrence and his colleagues, who went on to present the community volunteer with a framed certificate in recognition for her assistance. The fire department’s top brass also offered a second certificate to the Morrowtown Community Group, which was accepted by Lydia Jones, a co-founder of the organization.

When all was said and done, Lawrence was able to declare Smoke Alarm Saturday a blazing success thanks to the help that he and his colleagues received from the community.

“We were issued 48 smoke alarms on very short notice,” he added, “and at the end of the day, 48 ten-year lithium battery smoke alarms were installed by our teams in that neighborhood.”

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