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CFD smoke detector blitz goes big

Posted: August 20, 2018 3:59 p.m.
Updated: August 21, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Martin L. Cahn/C-I

Camden Mayor Alfred Mae Drakeford (front row, third from left) and Camden City Council members stand with members of the Camden Fire Department (CFD) following a report by Assistant Chief Eddie Gardner (front row, far left) during council’s Aug. 14 meeting about the CFD’s ongoing smoke detector blitz. Gardner said the department has installed 933 smoke detectors so far and hope to finish the blitz with a record-breaking 1,500 devices installed in and around Camden.

The Camden Fire Department (CFD) recently installed 933 smoke detectors in homes in and around Camden, and they’re not done yet. The CFD is in the midst of its annual smoke detector “blitz,” trying to ensure that every home as at least one, if not more, smoke detectors.

CFD Assistant Chief Eddie Gardner briefed Camden City Council during its Aug. 14 meeting about the effort, pointing out that the department has been involved in getting smoke detectors into homes since the 1980s.

Two years ago, Gardner said, the effort concentrated in the Kirkwood community with the S.C. Fire Marshal’s Office.

“From Dicey Creek Road all the way to Firetower Road and everything east of Broad Street, and we put in 297 alarms,” Gardner said. “Last year, Red Cross actually stepped up and we coordinated with them to do another smoke detector blitz. We did it actually in the south Camden area from York Street all the way down to Meeting Street, from Campbell Street all the way over to Mill Street, and in that one, we put in 260 alarms.”

Gardner said for this year’s effort, CFD Deputy Chief Phil Elliott obtained grant for yet another blitz.

“This one is a big blitz. So far, we’ve done (the) east Camden area, we’ve (the) done Edgewood area, we’ve done Cool Springs, and now we’re in (the) Knights Hill area,” Gardner said, contacting 251 homes and installing the 933 smoke alarms. He then announced that the CFD received another 480 smoke detectors that day.

“So, when we get done, we’re hoping to do somewhere of around 1,500 alarms in the community.”

Gardner said what fire departments across the country are finding is that while 96 percent of homes have smoke detectors, but that a large majority of those detectors are missing batteries, have expired batteries, or out of date.

“After that 10 years, they start losing their sensitivity, losing a little bit over time,” Gardner said.

He said that as firefighters visited those 251 homes this year, about 90-95 percent had alarms, but about 70 percent were either not working or had expired.

A fort and spaniels

Also during the Aug. 14 meeting, Camden Archives and Museum Director Katherine Richardson briefed council on two upcoming projects. One is titled “Make No Doubt, We Shall Carry This Post: The History and Archaeology of Fort Motte.” While Fort Motte was built close to St. Matthews in Calhoun County, Richardson said the exhibit -- slated to open by Aug. 28 -- is meant to show the interconnectedness of all the sites of skirmishes and battles in South Carolina during the American Revolution. She said the exhibit is a traveling one from the Confederate Relic Room, will stay in Camden through Jan. 2, and is curated by Camden Archives’ Curator of Collections Rickie Good.

“We decided to include this exhibit at the archives and museum to demonstrate the interconnectedness of all the skirmishes and battles that took place in South Carolina during the American Revolution, especially after the defeat at the Battle of Camden,” Richardson said. “Along with the information on Fort Motte and the siege that took place there in May 1781, we are including artifacts and information about the August 1780 Battle of Camden and the April 1781 Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill.”

Richardson explained that afterwards, partisans attacked all British outposts throughout the region, ultimately forcing Gen. Francis Lord Rowdon to abandon Camden.

“Although neither side was aware of it at the time, this was the beginning of the end of British control in South Carolina. So, we were sort of the tipping point here in Camden… There’s a real connection, you can’t really separate one battle or skirmish from another,” Richardson said.

Richardson then took out a small, but apparently very heavy object: one of several statuettes of a Boykin Spaniel that, in conjunction with the Boykin Spaniel Society and the city’s tourism department, will be placed around Camden. She said the concept is based on walking tours in the Greenville and Columbia areas, and called it the “Boykin Spaniel Invasion of Camden.”

“We are going to use our (hospitality tax grant) to buy 12 of these little dogs to put around town,” Richardson said. “The clues to their location will be written in ‘puppy dog first person.’ It will be on the internet, it’ll be an internet tour, but we plan to do a brochure, too, so people that walk in to the archives can take the clues and go around town that way, too.”

Richardson said she believes the Boykin Spaniel statues will be a “great addition” to the city and ultimately lead people to the archives to see its permanent exhibit on the S.C. State Dog. She said she expects they should be installed by the spring, if not earlier.

Finally, Richardson announced that, based on information from, the archives and museum is the No. 1 site to visit in Camden.

In other business Aug. 14:

• Camden Municipal Election Commission Chairman Bruce Little reported that only two candidates turned in the required number of signatures to be placed on the ballot in November for city council seats. Little said incumbent candidates Jeffrey Graham (who was absent) and Deborah Davis both obtained more than the necessary signatures. Graham and Davis’ seats are the only ones open this year. Little said 225 signatures were required to place a candidate on the ballot. He said Davis received 281 signatures and the commission certified 229 of them as valid. Little said Graham obtained 386 signatures, of which the commission certified 237 as valid.

• The Kershaw County All-America City delegation presented the city with the county’s All-America City trophy; acknowledged delegates Johnny Deal’s and Clinton Washington’s receipt, respectively, of the All-America Social Media and Youth Leadership awards; and presented council with proclamations from both the S.C. State House and U.S. Congress.

• Council unanimously proclaimed the week of Aug. 12-18 as National Health Center Week in Camden.

• Council unanimously resolved, in separate actions, to allow the consumption of beer and wine during Patrick Davis’ upcoming concert and Jammin’ for the Soul.

Council also unanimously passed first reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 152 of the city code regarding flood damage prevention, but not before having to reconvene the meeting for a moment in order to officially take the vote.

Mayor Alfred Mae Drakeford introduced the item prior to the Jammin’ for the Soul consumption resolution and it received a motion and a second. Councilman Stephen Smoak then asked City Planner Shawn Putnam for some information about the amendment.

Putnam explained that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) recently updated its flood map and the ordinance needed to be amended to reflect those changes. He said there have been minor changes in definitions of certain flood zones, including at the intersection of Laurens and Gordon streets.

“The flood plain was expanded a little north of that intersection,” Putnam said. “Most of the changes to the flood plain in the city were to reduce the size of it, because the maps were made with updated topographic information, a lot of areas, when you compare the old map to the new map, the area that’s actually a flood zone is smaller. In some cases it removed the AE zone, which is the zone that if your structure is in, you’re required to have insurance. There’s another area, called the ‘X’ zone, that is a lower-risk area; in some places, that area was eliminated altogether.”

Smoak said he was glad to hear this would be the case, as NFIP changes usually have the opposite effect.

Putnam said the map changes will go into effect on Sept. 28.

The mayor then directly went on to the Jammin’ for the Soul resolution and then other business from council members. It was not until after the meeting officially adjourned that members realized they had not actually voted on the Chapter 152 amendment.

Mayor Drakeford called for a motion, second and vote to briefly reconvene the meeting. Members then voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance amendment, after which Drakeford adjourned the meeting a second time.


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