A day after a grandmother and two of her grandsons were killed in a fire, Tampa fire officials are working to improve fire safety.
Sheryl James, 61, and grandsons Emjay Jackson, 3, and Reshard Ashley, 8, all died in the early Tuesday morning fire at their home on east Paris Street. Another grandson, Romello Jackson, 8, also died on Wednesday.
Tampa Fire Rescue investigators say the family did not have smoke detectors in the home. Burglar bars on the windows prevented James and the boys from escaping the fire.
Tampa Fire Rescue and the American Red Cross conducted a canvass of the East Tampa neighborhood. They teamed up, going door to door performing fire safety inspections and installing smoke detectors in houses that didn't have them.
"The best thing that can happen from all of this, is people are aware of the things that it takes to be safe," said Tampa Fire Marshal Milton Jenkins.
Mattie Coleman said the fire Tuesday hit close to home.
"Oh it hasn't really left me," Coleman said. "It made me think of my grandchildren. It's so pitiful."
Coleman and her family have lived in their house more than 50 years. They said most of that time, the home didn't have smoke detectors.
"My dad had some but I guess when they went bad we just didn't get anymore," he said.
Tampa Fire Rescue said the process for getting free smoke detectors has changed.
Now, you have to let crews come to your house to install them.
The Fire Marshal also said a new state law requires them to have 10-year sealed batteries.
"Legislators got together and thought, 'you know, what if this thing is about saving lives then we need to make sure people don't have the ability to turn the smoke detectors off, because now it's not serving it's purpose,'" said Jenkins.
The Colemans said they appreciate the effort.
"I feel safer if a fire comes and there's smoke in the house. Those smoke detectors will let us know it's time to get out or to try and do something," said Ronnie Coleman.
The teams installed a total of 171 smoke detectors in 61 homes.
Tampa residents who need a smoke detector can call the Tampa Fire Marshal's office at 813-274-700 and Hillsborough County residents can contact Hillsborough Fire Rescue at 813-272-6600.
More than 60 people gathered in front of the destroyed home Tuesday evening for a candlelight vigil.
A gofundme account has been set up to help the family.
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