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Red Cross partners to offer free smoke detectors

The American Red Cross Southern Nevada Chapter is making an offer that they hope Pahrump residents won’t refuse.

This month, the agency’s partners and volunteers will install free smoke alarms throughout the community.

American Red Cross Regional Disaster Program Officer Fernandez Leary recently visited with Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Lewis about the Home Fire Relief Campaign.

“This is a national initiative by the Red Cross to reduce fire deaths and injuries by 20 percent over the next five years,” Leary said. “We do that by meeting with fire departments and other public safety agencies by providing fire prevention preparedness information at the same time.”

The campaign is opeSn to all local families and individuals who want to take part.

Leary said homes in rural communities were the most susceptible to a devastating structure fire.

“We looked at data across the nation, by zip code, that had the most fire deaths and injuries,” he said. “They identified areas where injuries and deaths were more prevalent. Unfortunately, those areas tended to be the rural areas and lower economic areas.”

Lewis said when he first learned of the program, it was a no-brainer for his department to partner with the agency.

“We’ve created a game plan with some of the leaders of the southern Nevada Chapter of the Red Cross,” Lewis said. “We are going to concentrate on the south end of Pahrump. However, if someone has a need for the installation of a smoke alarm throughout the valley, they can just provide us with their name and addresses and telephone numbers, we can follow up and get that information to the Red Cross.”

Additionally, Leary said the research also indicated that some homes destroyed by fire either had non-working smoke alarms or none at all.

“Some also had smoke alarms, but the batteries were dead,” Leary said. “Education is also stressed because a lot of areas didn’t understand how to even prevent fires from occurring. We realize that one of the best ways to prevent deaths and injuries is by having smoke alarms installed.”

Leary said the Home Fire Relief Campaign is funded through a national fire and smoke alarm company.

“Our national organization partnered with them and they donated thousands and thousands of smoke alarms across the nation,” he said. “Those were handed out to different chapters of the American Red Cross.”

Leary said Pahrump was identified by the American Red Cross as a locale needing smoke alarms.

“It actually kicked off October 11 in Las Vegas,” he said. “We realized there was a real need in Pahrump. We are coming back on Saturday December 6 for a pre-canvassing event near Station 3 on Kellogg. We are going to walk the streets and meet with residents and tell them what we are doing. If no one is home, we are going to leave door hangers with a number so they can actually call us and make an appointment when we come back on Dec. 13 to install the smoke alarms.”

As a result of the pre-canvassing event, Leary said the response, so far, has been mixed.

“I think a lot of that is because people are not very trusting and are not exactly sure why we are there,” he said. “Folks see it as another governmental agency, and it creates an issue there. Most of the places we are hitting are lower economic areas and as we made our way down the street, they would call their neighbor and ask what we were doing and then ask that we come back and do their home.”

Leary mentioned that the volunteers will first assess the smoke alarm to determine whether it’s functioning properly, needs fresh batteries or requires a new one.

The process normally takes about 10-to-15 minutes.

Local residents wishing to make an appointment for the installation of the free smoke alarms may do so by calling the Southern Nevada Chapter of the American Red Cross at (702) 607-1707.

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