A volunteer and a firefighter check a smoke alarm in a city home on Tuesday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters visited more than two dozen homes on Tuesday to ensure they had working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Another 30 on the list this week.
The project is a partnership between the city of North Adams and the Western Massachusetts chapter of the American Red Cross' national Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.
"We are thrilled that the North Adams Fire Department has partnered with us again this year to bring the Home Fire Campaign to town," said Mary Nathan, disaster program manager for the Western Mass chapter. "Their firefighters along with Red Cross volunteers expect to install smoke alarms in 60-plus homes in North Adams this week."
Nathan says fires account for seven fatalities a day in the United States, often in homes without working smoke alarms. The campaign has helped Red Cross volunteers and partners install nearly 2 million free smoke alarms and provide fire education, especially for escape plans, to families across the nation. Since the campaign launch in 2014, the Red Cross says it has saved at least 642 lives across the country.
"I'm happy to have this program," said Fire Chief Stephen Meranti following the kick off on Tuesday morning. "It allows us to get out in the community and do the installs and kind of visit with our residents and talk about fire safety, especially during Fire Prevention Week.
"It's important make sure all their detectors are working and whether or not we're going to replace them and install new ones or replace the batteries if needed. So this program works it keeps the small fire small and that's the key to fire prevention: Fire extinguishment."
Firefighters and volunteers working in teams are visiting families that registered to have their alarms checked. The campaign aligns with Fire Prevention Week, which began on Sunday. The fire education and awareness week is a program of the National Fire Prevention Association and the oldest public safety and health observances. It was first declared by President Calvin Coolidge in 1925 and commemorates the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, during which more than 250 people lost their lives and more than a 100,000 were left homeless.
The Red Cross says home fires kill more people in the United States than all other natural disasters combined. And fire experts say there's a critical two minutes for people to escape a home fire. Families should ensure there's two ways to get out of every room and designate nearby safe area such as a neighbor's home or a landmark to meet.
Smoke alarms should be on every level of a building and checked regularly to ensure they are in working order. Battery-powered alarms should have new batteries installed twice a year.
Meranti reiterated that small fires are easier to contain and limit damage. "It's always said that early detection and notification, and a quick response, is the way to keep the small fires small," he said.
Mayor Thomas Bernard complimented the work the city's first responders do in answering emergency situations.
"But we know that preparedness helps to limit the potential for emergency situations to arise," he said. "I'm grateful to Chief Meranti and our North Adams firefighters for their work on the Fire Preparedness Campaign, and to our partners in the Red Cross for this important collaborative opportunity."
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