By Heather Regula, Correspondent
Sound the Alarm, a series of home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events across the country is a critical part of the national Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. On average, national statistics show that seven people die in home fires every day, and properly working smoke alarms are absent in many of those homes.
“National fire statistics show that firefighters respond to more residential fires than any other type of fire. Of those residential fires, kitchen fires are the leading cause of fires nationwide. When a fire starts, it doubles in size very quickly. The faster and the hotter the fire burns, it increases the risk of a structure collapse, which puts firefighters at risk,” stated Chief Pritchard. “The safety of the residents and the firefighters is always our primary concern. The goal of having a working smoke detector is to get everyone out safely. It is our policy that when we respond to a house fire, we go to the house on either side of it and check if they have smoke detectors installed. If they don’t, then we install them. Our vision is to put a smoke detector in every house in Belton.”
The inaugural Sound the Alarm event took place in Belton on Saturday, July 28, involving approximately 95 volunteers – from the Fire Corps, Fire Department, the BOSS program from Fort Hood, the Red Cross, and Immanuel Lutheran Church. With the assistance of sponsors, the Fire Corps provided breakfast, coffee, and lunch.
“This was the first leg of our plan. We started south, in the Miller Heights area, and we are going to work our way north. We went door to door, asking residents if we could either install or check on their existing smoke detectors. If the resident didn’t know when they last changed their batteries, we went ahead and changed them,” explained Pritchard. “A few weeks before the event, the Fire Corps, and the Red Cross placed door hangers in the area we were planning on canvassing. The Fire Corps placed signs in the area a week before the event, letting people know about our event and that we were coming. On Saturday, we installed 219 smoke detectors, all of which were donated by the Red Cross. The Fire Corps was able to get about 80 batteries donated by area businesses, and we replaced batteries as needed as well. We are not done – we are planning on doing this next year, and for as long as it takes to accomplish our goal. If at any time someone residing within the city limits of Belton needs a smoke detector installed, or batteries changed, they can call us, and we will take care of it for them at absolutely no cost.”
The Belton Fire Corps can be reached at (254)933-5894.