By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer
Clarksburg Fire Department Captain Cindy Murphy, who is also Director of Safety and Training, said she’s determined to get a state-of-the art smoke detector in the hands of all the 850 first graders of Harrison County by the end of this school year.
Her Operation “Not One More” – meaning not one more child should die in a fire – distributes lithium ion battery-charged smoke detectors, which last ten years, to the children to take home with them.
A tragedy that hit close personally to Murphy inspired her to do more than just educate the children about fire safety. One of the students she met in her regular presentations, 7-year-old Hanna Crock (along with her father and older brother) died in a home fire at Little Rock Camp just about a month after Murphy met her.
“I had Hanna in class,” she said. “I just couldn’t do that anymore,” referring to just talking about fire safety to the students without giving them something tangible that could save their and their families’ lives.
Murphy was actually doing presentations at a school when she learned of the tragedy and that Hanna had died.
“It was very hard to continue that day,” Murphy recounted.
Murphy is now on her mission with “Not One More” to give the smoke detectors to the first graders. She chose that age group so that the 10-year lithium detectors could be active for the child’s protection for most of their school years – a time they are especially vulnerable.
“It’s that silent guardian that will watch over them,” she said.
Murphy chose the decades-long lasting lithium type because people are more likely to be protected by them, because human error is lessened by not having to replace the battery every year. Each one costs between $19 to $25.
Murphy said three main human error reasons exist for smoke detectors to fail: 1) forgetting to change the battery; 2) taking the battery out to use for something else; and 3) removing the battery to avoid nuisance noise (such as normal stove heat) and forgetting to put it back in.
She plans for Operation “Not One More” to be an ongoing long-term project to be initiated for each new class of first graders each school year in Harrison County and hopes that it will go statewide as well. Also a volunteer for the Educational Outreach Program with the Harrison County Child Advocacy Center, Murphy is working to build and sustain the project through donations and grants.
One of her colleagues, Lt. Patrick SanJulian, said the department, fellow first responders, and others in the community have shown they agree with Murphy’s mission.
“It’s a going to be a great thing, and, hopefully, it’ll get as much support as possible,” SanJulian said.
“All I am is just a messenger for the mission,” Murphy stated. “This is in honor of Hanna and her family, so that their sacrifice is not in vain.”
To donate to the project, make checks out to: International Association of Firefighters Local 89, with “smoke detector program” on the memo line. Mail to or drop off at the Clarksburg Fire Department, 465 West Main Street, Clarksburg, WV, 26301.
For more information, call Cindy Murphy at (304) 669-9015; email [email protected]; or visit on Facebook at Operation Not One More.