FLOYD | Funds have been raised from five area organizations and businesses to purchase 50 fire escape ladders for two-story homes in Floyd.
The Gospel Lighthouse Church, the Floyd Lions Club, Grace Methodist Church, Cedar Springs Camp and Schueth Ace Hardware all donated money to purchase the ladders.
The project was named Operation Josh's Ladder in honor of Josh Nelson, 27, who died in a fire in Charles City on March 31.
Floyd resident Lois Meyer, treasurer of the Gospel Lighthouse Church, has a personal connection to the tragedy. Josh's mom, Marrian Linde of Charles City, is her cousin.
Meyer said Nelson was a friendly person who liked everyone.
She said his death could have been prevented if there had been an escape ladder to allow him to get out of a window in his apartment, which was on the upper floor of a large house.
"We never want to see anyone else die in a fire," she said.
Meyer said people should have two ways out of their residence in case of fire. The ladders provide that second way out for those who live in a two-story house.
Meyer said the name Operation Josh's Ladder comes from the song "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder," often sung in Sunday school.
She said she wanted a catchy name for the project that can be used to build momentum to raise more funds to provide ladders for those in rural Floyd and Charles City.
On Saturday morning Floyd Fire Chief Ben Chatfield will train Floyd residents receiving the ladders on how to use them.
The portable ladders can be stored compactly when not in use. They come fully assembled.
They are made of steel and nylon and have wide, windowsill hooks. The rungs are slip-resistant.
Meyer said the ladders are strong enough that an adult can descend them while carrying a child.
The ladders comply with American Society for Testing and Materials standards.
Linde said the project is worth it "if it just saves one person's life."