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Local fire departments team up with Chapel Hill-Carrboro Meals on Wheels

chapel hill fire department firefighters truck

The Chapel Hill fire department serves the Town of Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

The Chapel Hill and Carrboro fire departments and Orange County Emergency Services is partnering with Chapel Hill-Carrboro Meals on Wheels to provide a smoke detector installation and safety check service to their users in addition to their regular meal delivery service.

Known for serving hot food and providing emotional support for senior citizens, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Meals on Wheels is collaborating with local fire departments and emergency services to ensure the safety of the people they serve.

“We’re so thankful to the Chapel Hill and Carrboro fire departments and Orange County Emergency Services for ensuring this important life safety tool is in place for our recipients,” said Rachel Bearman, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Meals on Wheels Executive Director, in a press release. “This will also put a smile on many of their faces as they get a chance to see new faces during their daily visit.”

This new partnership consists of firefighters stopping in the homes of meal recipients along with Meals on Wheels staff. They will check the residents' homes to ensure that their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are fully functioning while their meal is being delivered. If they need batteries or a new smoke alarm, these will be provided, as well.

Chapel Hill Fire Department Fire Marshal Tommy Gregory said these visits will occur throughout the southern part of the county, where Chapel Hill-Carrboro Meals on Wheels operates.

The fire department sees this partnership as a way to make connections with various parts of the community.

“The Chapel Hill Fire Department along with the area fire departments, other area fire departments, saw this as a great opportunity. We’re always trying to get out into the community and put a face with a name sort of thing,” said Ran Northam, Chapel Hill Community Safety Communications Specialist.

Northam also said the fire departments would “use these opportunities for education,” and that on their visits the fire departments will be “teaching residents the smoke alarm/detector safety.”

A letter was sent to all of the Meals on Wheels participants who will be visited. The letter detailed how a member of the fire department will be coming by to check the smoke detectors in their homes. This was also an opportunity to answer any safety questions about fire extinguishers or other fire safety processes.

“I went to a safety summit in Thomasville, and it was one of the programs that someone else was doing and it seemed like it made a lot of sense to try to reach out to people that may not necessarily get out or may not be able to replace their batteries or replace their smoke alarms when needed,” Gregory said.

Five UNC fraternity members were charged with tampering with smoke alarms last month. While the safety checks with Meals on Wheels and the fire departments started soon after this incident, on March 5, Northam said there was no correlation between these events. 

“No, this was actually planned well in advance of that incident," said Northam. "I think this is a good example of us getting out in the community and continuing to advertise and educate these messages, but we definitely are not doing this because that happened."

The visits will occur on Tuesdays and Thursdays every week until April 18.


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