TCHULA, Miss. — One year after a deadly home fire killed six children in Holmes County, Miss., national organizations and local leaders are working together to prevent a similar tragedy. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), and the Mississippi High-Risk Fire Safety Task Force have joined together to provide and install nearly 9,000 smoke alarms in homes in the county. This project will put a smoke alarm in every home in Holmes County, one of the most impoverished areas in the nation.

NFPA president and CEO James M. Shannon and community leaders announced the program at the Tchula, Miss., Fire Department as part of Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 5-11).

Mississippi, and especially Holmes County, has been hard hit by fire deaths in homes without working smoke alarms. Of more than 50 fire deaths recently investigated in Mississippi by the state Office of the Fire Marshal, not one occurred in a home with a working smoke alarm.

"All of us at NFPA have dedicated our professional lives to helping to prevent tragedies such as the Tchula fire," said Shannon. "There is no question that working smoke alarms can save lives. And, by providing every home in the county with a working smoke alarm, this program will help to keep families safer."

"We are pleased to be working with NFPA and the Mississippi High-Risk Fire Safety Task Force to provide Holmes County with these smoke alarms," said Ken Burris, FEMA regional director. "We hope that this unique effort will also help to teach residents about the importance of fire safety in the home."

Following the Tchula fire last year, Holmes County leaders established the Mississippi High-Risk Fire Safety Task Force to provide children and older adults with fire safety educational programs; ensure that every household in Holmes County has a working smoke alarm; increase fire safety awareness; address problems of fire and fire hazards in housing; and review and improve fire safety codes and legislation in the area.

It is expected that it will take six to nine months to install all 9,000 smoke alarms.

For more information on fire safety, visit NFPA’s Web site at or USFA's Web site at

Publication date: 10/06/2003