About a half-dozen Central New York companies are partnering with the American Red Cross to install more than 500 smoke alarms in Syracuse homes next month and educate families about fire safety. It’s part of a larger effort under the Red Cross’ Sound the Alarm initiative to install 100,000 smoke alarms nationwide the first two weeks of May. Senior Vice President at C&S Companies John Spina says they jumped at the chance to help financially and with volunteers.
“We’ve been friends and colleagues for many, many years. Although we compete for business sometimes in the community, when it comes to community assistance, everybody puts that down and says, ‘Okay, let’s get together,’ and help those individuals who sometimes can’t help themselves, and to hopefully allow families to be able to maybe sleep a little better at night.”
O’Brien and Gere, King & King Architects, Anchor QEA, and Honeywell have also committed donations and volunteers. Terry Madden is Senior Vice President at O’Brien and Gere, and board chair of the American Red Cross in CNY. He says they’re trying to encourage residents to make fire safety a priority.
“You put the smoke detector up there, you forget about it. Out of sight, out of mind. And then when a fire does happen, it doesn’t go off. It’s just because we forget to get the replacement batteries every six months. I don’t have the 10-year ones, but I think that’s the way it has to be, where you have to make it foolproof. But 10 years is a long time, people still forget. So it’s constant education.”
Volunteers will be installing smoke detectors with a sealed, 10-year battery, as opposed to those with replaceable batteries. American Red Cross CEO for Western and Central New York Rosie Taravella says the goal is to save lives and avoid disaster.
“Really, preparedness is the key to prevention and making sure that people never have to have the Red Cross at their front door at 4 am when their house is burned down. It’s a combination of just having the tools and knowing what to do, and really just awareness. We’re really thrilled when those response numbers go down because more people are prepared.”
Still, she says seven people per day die in house fires nationwide. So far, the Red Cross has documented 412 lives saved through the program since it began three years ago, including 17 in western and central New York. Taravella says teams of three will visit Syracuse neighborhoods on May 12th to install smoke detectors and educate families on fire safety. Appointments can be made by calling 315-234-2200.