Volunteers canvassed York’s Salem Square neighborhood, installing free smoke detectors as part of American Red Cross’ Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.
The nonprofit’s central Pennsylvania chapter aimed to put 1,000 smoke detectors in homes on the city’s west end Thursday, with members of the Salem Square Neighborhood Association assisting volunteers.
Vilisha Barnes has smoke detectors, but one wasn’t working when some volunteers rang her doorbell in the 500 block of West King Street.
“This is very nice,” Barnes said after a crew replaced the dysfunctional device in her downstairs ceiling.
After the detector was swapped out, Michael Smith, with Big Brothers Big Sisters of York and Adams Counties, reviewed fire safety tips with Barnes, reminding her to establish multiple escape routes and stay close to the ground in the event of a fire.
“You don’t think about stuff like this until something happens,” Barnes said.
As Smith and a few others walked down West King Street before turning onto Hartley Street, Kerri Cassel reminded the volunteers they should be educating tenants about what they should know so they can help landlords make their residences safe.
Cassel, who works for CGA Law Firm, said a partner at her firm wanted her to join him in the smoke detector program. “I wanted to get involved with the York community,” she said.
Volunteers left fliers on homes’ doorknobs if no one answered. The fliers contained contact information — in Spanish and English — for people to call the Red Cross for new smoke detectors or help fixing old ones.
Salem Square is one of the more densely populated areas of York, said Mayor Kim Bracey after a news conference across from the former site of Gus’ Place. A fire in one of the many connected row houses could be devastating, she said.
Thursday’s program was the second such campaign in York this year. Nearly 250 smoke detectors were installed in May in the city’s northeast neighborhood after a rash of fires on Walnut Street, said Matt Leininger, chapter executive for American Red Cross of South Central PA.
The free smoke detectors are part of Red Cross’ effort to reduce the number of home fire injuries and fatalities by 25 percent over five years.
Smoke detectors reduce people’s chances of escaping fires by more than 50 percent, said Dan Tobin, regional director of marketing and communications for the Red Cross. It’s estimated that almost 5 million homes in the United States don’t have working smoke detectors, he said.