Agencies launching plan to reduce deaths from fires

Every home, whether it’s a house, apartment or trailer, needs a working smoke alarm to help prevent injury or death in the event of a fire.

The Seymour Fire Department and American Red Cross are partnering for a home fire campaign to reduce fire deaths one home at a time.

Between 80 and 100 volunteers are needed to help go door-to-door in the Village Green Mobile Home Park on South O’Brien Street in Seymour to install free smoke alarms during the March 11 event.

“This is a nationwide campaign, but we have not had the opportunity to do an event in Seymour, so we are really excited to make a difference,” said Maria Carrasquillo, disaster program specialist with the Red Cross. “If we can save even one life, we are going to consider the day a success.”

Carrasquillo said Village Green was chosen in order for the project to have the most impact.

“We would love to install one in every single one of those units,” she said. “But we also want to sit down and talk with the family and help them prepare for an emergency. What people don’t realize is that you have only about two minutes to get out of a house that is on fire. “

There are three jobs volunteers can sign up for to help.

The first is a documenter. These volunteers will collect residents’ information, what services are provided and the number of alarms installed.

Volunteers also are needed to install the devices and teach residents how to test them to make sure they are working.

The third job is that of safety educator. These volunteers will teach residents about fire safety and assist them in creating and practicing a home fire escape plan.

Translators also are needed to help convey information to Spanish-speaking residents.

The first shift of volunteers will be trained from 8 to 9 a.m. and then canvas the neighborhood from 9 a.m. to noon. A second shift will have their training from 1 to 2 p.m. and then canvas from 2 to 5 p.m.

Lunch will be provided for volunteers.

Fire Chief Brad Lucas said this isn’t the first time such an effort has been organized, but this is on a much larger scale.

“Two years ago, a group from Cummins installed fire alarms, but it was in a different neighborhood,” Lucas said.

Although not everyone will be home or will allow volunteers to enter their home, Lucas said he hopes most residents will be receptive to the free service.

“We had a fatality in a fire a couple of weeks ago, and there was no smoke detector in that home,” Lucas said. “And we’ve been in homes where there are detectors in closets or drawers, but they aren’t installed. That’s what weighs on my mind.”

The Seymour Fire Department also has a program where residents can request a fire alarm or new batteries. They also will install the devices and test them free of charge.

“We try to look whenever we go in a house to make sure they have one and it works,” he said.

At a glance

American Red Cross and Seymour Fire Department Home Fire Campaign

Volunteers are needed to help install free fire alarms and teach residents about fire safety

When: March 11 — There are two shifts, from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Lunch will be provided for volunteers at noon.

Where: Village Green Mobile Home Park, South O’Brien Street in Seymour

Anyone interested in volunteering to help install free smoke detectors or receiving a free smoke detector should call the Red Cross office at 812-522-3888.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.