By MARK WALKER
The Pasco Fire Department is blazing a trail across south-central Washington with life-saving smoke alarms provided by the American Red Cross.
Crews respond to every call for service not only with firefighting and emergency medical supplies, but also carry smoke alarms available through the Red Cross Sound the Alarm Campaign.
Whenever appropriate to the circumstances of a residential call, crews take the opportunity to insure the home has at least one working smoke alarm. If there isn’t one, crews don’t leave the home without installing one.
“We made installations at more than 100 homes in 2018, installing 188 alarms overall,” said Ben Shearer, Pasco Fire Department public information officer and community education specialist. “We started because we were going to a lot of residential fires where there was no working alarm.”
In one case, the department installed six alarms for a city resident, and a short time later responded to a fire there.
“The resident turned on the automatic oven cleaner, and went and took a nap. But she had forgotten there were pans in the oven that caught fire. The alarm woke her up, and the fire was kept to the kitchen,” Shearer said. “It could have been a lot, lot worse if there had been no alarm.”
Red Cross disaster program manager, Cody Campbell, has been working with the fire department for more than two years now to help drive home the Sound the Alarm message.
“They’ve been a tremendous help,” said Campbell, “they’re doing an awesome job.”
Department firefighters have language and outreach skills that complement the Red Cross efforts,” Campbell said.
Shearer said his department is heavily invested in prevention efforts. “We can do a lot of community risk reduction that in the long run reduces demand for services and can limit damage in the event of emergencies,” Shearer said.
Working with the Red Cross, the Kennewick, Richland and Yakima fire departments are beginning to incorporate strategies similar to those employed in Pasco.
Nationwide, the Sound the Alarm campaign has installed more than a million smoke alarms over the last four years. This year the goal is to install more than 100,000 alarms during community events scheduled between April 27 and May 12.