Free Smoke Detectors

Thousands of Free Smoke Detectors

Resource Persons:

Susan Shaw – Susan

Kim Goulette - Kim


Richard Merlino - Rich

[Start 0:00:00]

Susan: Thank you all for being here. I do want to introduce my counterparts here. There’s Kim Goulette, who is the executive director of our chapter in Worcester, and Colene Goulette, who is a coordinator for our preparedness program at the Red Cross. I’m Susan Shaw, and I’m director of emergency services.

I’ve told these guys I was running a little late. We’ve had a spate of fires, and I came from two of them. It happened in Connecticut. One of them, there was an injury, smoke inhalation, and what I will say about from Monday to today, we’ve responded to over eight incidents in my area. In only one case was there a working smoke alarm, and all the others, they had them, but they took the batteries out, or they didn’t have them, or, “Yes, I don't know why it’s not working.”

Seven people a day die from house fires. In our program, the number is 285 people that we can say we directly saved as a result of what we call our Home Fire Campaign where our volunteers go into homes and apartments and install free smoke alarms and CO detectors. Not only that, they will talk to the tenant on escape routes. They work with them to make sure they have a fire safety plan, make sure they know what to do, clean the lint trap in the dryer, all the things that they’re going to do, they’ll work through.

Our team is trained to do. Our team is trained by the Worcester Fire Department. They go out, twos and threes, documenting what’s in the apartment, what’s in the home. Out there, there’s the smoke alarms, but these are 10-year sealed smoke alarms.

One of the things that we at the Red Cross are dependent on are volunteers. Ninety percent of our staff are volunteer staff and these are the volunteers that get up at 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00, and 6:00 in the morning to go out to fires or floods, or get deployed to Texas or Puerto Rico, Southern California now. I’ve lost count of the number of disasters that we’ve deployed to since August; eight or nine, I think at this point. These same people who go to Puerto Rico come back and answer the call at 2:00 in the morning, go out and lend assistance there on the scene by firefighting, support for lodging, emergency need, referrals, health services, mental health services.

When the Home Fire Campaign started, it came as a result of a key portion of our mission and I’m going to read it, not that I should have memorized it, but I don’t want to get it wrong. “The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.” There are two words in there: prevents and alleviates. We do a lot of work in alleviating the suffering. It happens in this country and around the world, but a bigger part of this has to be in prevention and that’s why we’re here, that’s why we’re talking to you and anyone about how we can work together to prevent deaths and injuries from fires: seven people a day in the United States.

Our program is simple: sign up. give us your name, your number. We’ll reach out to you. Our coordinator is absolutely wonderful, put together appointment, and our teams will go out there. We want to be able to talk to the resident wherever possible so we can talk about fire safety, but this is a great program. You’re right. It’s thousands of free smoke detectors. We’ve actually installed over 1 million smoke detectors since this program started.

Audience: [applause]

Susan: But there is more. I’m going to actually ask Kim Goulette to come up here and talk about our Sound the Alarm Program, which is April 28, 2018, and I’m going to hand it over.

Kim: Thank you, Susan. Don’t go too far. Hi, everyone.


You know, I’m going to kind of tie into what Susan talked about with our mission. Two other very important pieces: mobilizing volunteers and donors. What we really need, not only do we want to provide you and your tenants with good escape plans and good fire safety tips and free smoke alarms and CO detectors, but we want to create resilient communities.

The only way that we can become resilient in our community is if all of us work together to volunteer to make sure we’re safe, to spread the word and get this information out to people, and mobilize, mobilize the community to work at protecting themselves. As we install all of these smoke detectors from now until April 28th,this is what we’re going to be doing and we’ll be working with you to do that, the celebration will really be April 28th. That’s when we will probably step back and create a nice event. It’s a Saturday and we will look for you to come and support that.

That’s when we will finally say, “You know what, we did it. Our goal, goal is to install 450 smoke alarms and at least reach 150 houses. We’ll be looking at, least doing that throughout the next couple of months, building up to April 28th. We have your information and we can leave the flyers behind. If anybody would like to grab a flyer and reach out to us to help us, our mission goals, then we really would be very ecstatic about that and we look forward to working together and let’s make our communities safe. Thank you.

Susan: Thanks, Kim.

Audience: [applause]

Rich: Okay, so I’m going to go around with a couple of questions. You mentioned that the smoke detectors they’re sealed units.

Susan: Right.

Rich: Who’s ever found the batteries not in the  smoke detector before? Right? They just magically, I don't know what it is, whether it’s Duracell or Rayovac, they’re slippery. They escape in the middle of the night when nobody is looking.

Susan: They’re in the remote.

Rich: That key in the remote or whatever battery-operated device that people have in the house. But it can’t happen with this. These things are good for 10 years. This is the fire code, so that kind of meets all those things. You’re going to sell your property, you’re going to be in compliance because you’re going to do smoke inspection and that sort of thing, so all that is good.

To sign up is very easy. They can either contact you or we actually have sign-up forms out here. You already have a bunch of people sign up, right?

Susan: Yes, we did.

Rich: Sign up is super complicated. You have to write your name, your phone number, your email, and how many units you have. You have to check the box that says you’re okay with free stuff. Is that basically it?

Susan: You don't have to check the box.

Rich: Really?

Susan: No.

Audience: [laughter]

Rich: So for anybody in here who is just winded after writing your phone number and email address, you’re excused from checking off the box. Okay, good news. Raise your hand if you have some questions. I got 72 of these free smoke detectors installed, so I’m pretty pumped about this.

Okay. I’ll make my way back there. Thank you. I should have gone the other way. Okay.

Male Audience 1: Is this program national, throughout the country or is it just this area?

Susan: It’s national, throughout the entire country.

Male Audience 1: We have a daughter that has rental property in Pennsylvania. Is there a way that she would know the chapter number to call?

Susan: I would just go on the website,, and you can register that way.

Male Audience 1: Thank you.

Male Audience 2: [crosstalk 0:08:55]

Susan: Utilize the zip code.

Male Audience 1: Thank you.

Susan: Sure.

Peter: Hi, Susan. I’ve spoken with you on the phone many times. But my bad, because I thought these were hardwired external ones, and so forth. That’s very important to realize they’re not. They’re indoor and Bob [unintelligible 0:09:12] came to the house and they were terrific. They put them in because indoors, people take them out, and what can I say? Thanks a lot.

Susan: I’ll pass it on to Roger. He can’t be here tonight, but he is tremendous, and the team. Thank you.

Male Audience 3: I have a few questions. Do you want the owner to be present or you’re willing to make an appointment just with the tenant?

Susan: With the tenant is fine. We know—

Male Audience 3: Okay, and—

Susan: I’ll just interject if I can. We know that sometimes it can’t be arranged with the tenants there. We’ll still make the installation with you—I mean we’re not going to—and their permission, but we prefer the tenant to be there.

Male Audience 3: Okay. Are these combo CO and smoke or separate?

Susan: Separate.

Male Audience 3: Separate. Okay, thanks.

Susan: Thank you.

Rich: These are all photoelectric, correct?

Susan: That’s correct.

Rich: All right. Any other questions?

Susan: We will change out. If they have something there, we will change out and put a new one in, so that we know that they’re good for 10 years.

Rich: Okay, as soon as I start leaving the back of the room, somebody raises their hand back there. I’m watching you, guys. Okay, all right. Terrific. Let’s have a hand for our folks from the Red Cross. Susan Shaw, thank you.

Audience: [applause]

[End 0:10:42]

This is part of the Worcester Rental Real Estate Networking and Training series.