VIENNA - The Grand Central Mall and local emergency departments are joining together for the second annual Fire Prevention Event from noon-3 p.m. Saturday at the mall.
According to national statistics, more than 3,000 people die in home fires each year in the U.S., most of whom are in homes without a working smoke detector.
The goal of the Fire Prevention Event is to raise awareness about how working, properly installed smoke alarms can drastically lower a person's chances of dying in a fire.
Thomas Hayes, 2, of North Hills, touches a Vienna firefighter’s mask as his sister Catherine, 5, looks on during last year’s Fire Prevention Event at the Grand Central Mall. This year’s program will be noon-3 p.m. Saturday at the mall.
Mall officials were inspired to create the event in 2012 after a startling trend was repeatedly reported in the news, both locally and nationally: nearly 70 percent of all fire-related deaths are in homes with no working smoke detectors.
"You can't help but feel that these deaths could have been prevented. You find yourself asking questions about why, and saying things like 'If only they had known,'" said Katrina Stephens, event organizer and marketing director for Grand Central Mall.
Having one of the largest platforms in the community to reach people, mall officials have decided again to partner with local authorities on fire prevention to help re-educate the community, she said.
The safety program will include local fire departments, the Division of Forestry and the American Red Cross.
"These are the real experts," said Stephens. "They work in these communities day in and day out purely out of passion for what they do. They put their lives on the line to protect us. And they do their absolute best to educate our communities about fire safety. Sharing this same passion, our goal is to give them the platform and the spotlight that they need to spread that information even further," she said.
"Far too many people have died in fires as a result of not having working smoke detectors in their homes," said Stephens. "Fire safety education needs to continue beyond elementary school."
The mall is partnering with Sears and Marietta Memorial Health System to provide free smoke detectors at the event. No one will be turned away, regardless of residency or income level. Recipients will be limited to one per level of their home.
In addition to the smoke detector distribution, Saturday's event will also feature children's activities, Smokey the Bear, fire truck tours, a fire extinguisher simulator and more. It is free to the public and all are encouraged to attend.
Any local fire department wishing to participate in this free event should contact the mall management office at its earliest convenience at 304-485-4465.