By Jano Tantongco
Local officials have teamed up with the American Red Cross to promote fire preparedness and install fire alarms for free.
The partnership, which was formed between Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer (D-Centerport), Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) and the Red Cross, is part of a Home Fire Preparedness Campaign that is hoped to reduce fire-related fatalities by 25 percent by 2020. Annually, residential house fires account for 2,500 deaths across the nation, officials said.
“When you look at fires in homes that have smoke detectors, there is a 50 percent decrease in deaths and injuries when there’s an active smoke detector,” Spencer said on Friday.
The Red Cross is providing Suffolk and Nassau residents Kidde-brand fire alarms with a lithium-ion battery that is estimated to last 10 years. Residents can call 516-229-1086 or log on to RedCross.org/LIFireSafety to make a free appointment. Volunteers were in Huntington Station on Saturday to host an alarm-installation event, and will host another event in the Village of Hempstead on April 9.
Bynoe, who is also the executive director of the Huntington Housing Authority, added, “It will allow for families to have peace of mind for years to come knowing that they have a maintenance-free smoke detector.”
Elizabeth Barker, interim chief executive officer of the Long Island chapter of the Red Cross, said the organization responds to 200 house fires on Long Island each year. Throughout the nation, the Red Cross responds to 70,000 house fires, officials said. “We’re on the scene when people have lost their home and their possessions and sometimes their pets and their loved ones,” Barker said. “This is really an opportunity for us to help people get prepared.”
The alarms and installations are being offered on a first-come, first-served basis, with a goal of 400 installations, Barker said.
Francis McQuade, chief of the Huntington Manor Fire Department, said these alarms are the “way of the future.”
“Fire just expands every second. People have up to two minutes to escape their house from a working fire,” said McQuade. “It does save lives. Every minute counts.”