On November 9, 2016 more than 40 volunteers came together with the common goal of installing smoke detectors in homes that either had outdated smoke detectors or were found to have none at all. Volunteers, which included the American Red Cross, City Police and Fire personnel, and residents installed more than 60 new smoke detectors that were donated by the American Red Cross in homes located throughout the Barden Subdivision neighborhood.
Identification of the neighborhood in need came from City of Fort Myers resident Mildred Benson, who was concerned for the elderly and families who had non-working or non-existent smoke detectors. The project gained traction when Fort Myers Fire Chief Trenton Bowen and Fire Marshal Jennifer Campbell made contact with the American Red Cross. Disaster Program Manager Justin McElwee, who administers the Home Fire Preparedness Event, is responsible for the planning which included canvassing the neighborhoods to reach out to homeowners to schedule time to complete the smoke detector installations.
According to Justin McElwee, the program, which is in its third year, was developed in response to the fact that seven times a day, someone in this country dies in a home fire and a fire-related injury is reported every 40 minutes. The American Red Cross has launched a nationwide campaign to reduce this number and volunteers can help save lives and prevent injuries. Nearly 1,000 times a day fire departments are called to a home fire. Over the next five years, the American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign aims to reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries in the U.S. by 25 percent. The American Red Cross in partnership with the local fire departments, corporate partners, faith-based groups, and other community partner volunteers, share fire safety tips, create disaster plans and install smoke detectors.
“We appreciate Ms. Benson’s leadership, and the hard work of the American Red Cross Volunteers and our City’s Fire and Police employees who participated in the Home Fire Preparedness Event,” said Chief Bowen. “Thanks to them, more than 40 homes are safer today than they were yesterday. We are looking forward to participating in this event again in the future.”