By Kristen Vodak
Photo: Anna Kultin
Teams of volunteers and firefighters went door-to-door in neighborhoods throughout Covington and Carnation as part of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign Martin Luther King Jr. Day initiative. The goal for the day of service was to educate residents about fire safety and to encourage individuals to take preventive fire safety measures.
Home visits by volunteers included fire alarm checks and offers to install free smoke alarms as needed. “I was impressed by how willing these neighborhoods were to work with us and then how empowered they were to take charge of their fire safety needs,” said Home Fire Campaign volunteer Maggie Shepherd.
“In one of the homes in Covington, there was a gentleman who wanted us to come in and test his smoke alarms,” said Allison Dedonato, Red Cross Regional Preparedness Manager. “He was so excited for us to be there! The gentleman told us a story of how when he was in kindergarten his house burned down and the smoke alarms saved their lives. He recalled how the Red Cross had responded to the fire, and put his family up with the place to stay and other essentials. Hearing about our work affecting someone in a very real way was inspiring and made me want to continue our work.”
The Home Fire Campaign initiative was started in 2014 in order to save lives, reduce injuries, and build resilient communities. Since its inception, there have been 131 documented lives saved across the country as a direct result of the campaign. In Covington and Carnation there were a combined total of 127 smoke detectors installed. Many more homes were reached with materials, including fire safety and prevention checklists. Community members were motivated to take action by regularly testing smoke alarms and by practicing escape plans.
The MLK Jr. Day events were a great step toward reaching the goal of installing 5,950 smoke alarms throughout the Northwest Region. “This was an amazing day to take off work and dedicate time to such a worthy cause,” said Home Fire Campaign volunteer Ellie Huizenga.