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The Roanoke Rapids Fire Department has received a $2,000 grant from FM Global which will be used by its fire prevention division to streamline the fire inspections reporting process as well as make its prevention outreach program more mobile.

“Ultimately the goal is we’re trying to be more efficient and more effective,” said Fire and Life Safety Educator Michael Butts.

The grant will provide a laptop and overhead projector for Butts to use for his prevention lessons and a tablet for Deputy Fire Marshal Kenneth Hollowell to use in the field for recording and reporting results of his fire inspections while adding photos of issues which need to be corrected within a business. “It will keep us up to date with schedules,” he said.

FM Global, the commonly used name for Factory Mutual Insurance Company, is a commercial property insurance concern located in Rhode Island.

“At FM Global, we strongly believe the majority of property damage is preventable, not inevitable,” said Michael Spaziani, assistant vice president and manager of the grant program in a news release announcing the grant award. “Far too often, inadequate budgets prevent those organizations working to prevent fire from being as proactive as they would like to be. With additional financial support, grant recipients are actively helping to improve property risk in the communities they serve.”

FM Global over the past 40 years said it has contributed millions of dollars in fire prevention grants to fire service organizations around the globe. It has also awarded grants to a number of fire service agencies based in North Carolina.

Both the job Hollowell does and the work Butts does as the fire and life safety educator are factored into the department’s fire suppression rating, which saw an improvement over its last inspection which went into effect in March.

More than that, Butts said, “Our hope is to create a more business friendly atmosphere within the city limits, all while making it a safer place to live.”

Said Butts: “The fire and life safety office is intended to educate the public on safe practices as well as what the jobs are within the fire department rank structure, including what we do day in and day out.”

As Hollowell is out inspecting businesses to make sure they meet fire codes, Butts has been out in the community participating in CPR classes, fire extinguisher use classes, explaining the importance of sprinkler systems and creating a virtual fire prevention message for children in the community.

Because of the novel coronavirus pandemic the outreach to the school children has gone virtual and can also be found on the department’s YouTube channel. “We wanted the fire safety messages to continue to make a positive influence with the youth of our great community,” Butts said.

“We’re trying to pursue as much grant funding as a department as we can,” Chief Jason Patrick said.

Butts said, “To me, the money is out there. Why not try if it creates a better service. We’re getting more outreach at very little cost. It’s definitely going to benefit us.”

Businesses, churches or other organizations wishing to receive CPR, fire extinguisher training or other fire prevention and safety classes are encouraged to call the fire department at 252-533-2880.