Saving lives through smoke alarm installation

By JESSICA ROBINSON

According to the American Red Cross website, fire experts agree that you may have as little as two minutes to escape a fire. Fire is the nation’s most frequent disaster.

In Burlington, Red Cross of Wyoming and Big Horn County Fire Dist. 4 are working together to bring free smoke alarms to the homes of the community in an event called “Sound the Alarm.” The event is planned for Nov. 12 through Nov. 14.

The program is nationwide and also goes by the name of Home Fire Campaign.

Gehrig Haberstock, Disaster Program Manager for Red Cross of Wyoming, said the program started about five years ago when the Red Cross didn’t see a reduction in fires in homes.

Haberstock said they install free smoke alarms in homes and provide home fire education on creating an evacuation and communication plan to families.

Even though they don’t have the exact data yet, Haberstock reported that 642 lives have been saved nationwide since the program started. According to the Red Cross website, they have installed nearly two million free smoke alarms and made more than 793,000 households safer from the threat of home fires.

Haberstock said they contacted and worked with Big Horn County Emergency Management Coordinator LaRae Dobbs. Dobbs pointed them in the direction of Burlington, where they got in contact with BHC Dist. 4 Fire Chief Mike Aagard. 

Dobbs said there had been prior discussion with the Red Cross. In that prior discussion, the Red Cross had presented them with concerns that there were a large number of elderly population in older homes that might not have smoke alarms.

After some time, the smoke alarm event came along and they gave the go ahead for Red Cross to go to Burlington.

In Burlington, the installation of the smoke alarms is based on appointments. Haberstock said in other areas, they have knocked on doors. However, they thought it would be best for this event to be appointment-based.

Red Cross of Wyoming is looking to come to the Greybull and Basin area in the future. Haberstock said a volunteer in Greybull has reached out, but that the Red Cross has not contacted any of the fire departments in the area.

Even though the event is scheduled for those in Burlington, Haberstock has opened the invitation for those out of the area to make an appointment.

The event is taking place Nov. 12 through Nov. 14. Anyone interested in having a free smoke alarm installed can make an appointment by calling 307-439-4167 or emailing Gehrig.Haberstock3@redcross.org.