by Vilma Escamilla Duran, Response & Recovery Member, CA Safe Corps
October 11, 2014 was a foggy Saturday morning in South Los Angeles. Dozens of volunteers from various organizations congregated in one of the Los Angeles Coliseum parking lots to participate in the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, which aims to reduce the number of home fire fatalities by 25 percent. The sad reality is that 6 people die every day due to a home fire. Most, if not all, are preventable.
After a few cups of strong coffee and fluffy pastries, we divided up into 3 groups to receive additional training for our assignment: to install smoke alarm installations and distribute fire safety education in a community that has a high prevalence of home fires.
Then we split up into our respective groups and took the first steps to launch this national Red Cross five-year fire prevention campaign, just like many teams across the country. This day, I had the pleasure of working with three amazing volunteers: Rudolph and Bose, Red Cross volunteers and Jonathan, a Cadet. We approached the first house and knocked on the door. A retired nurse opened her door and greeted us with a smile. We explained the purpose of our visit and she was ecstatic. She had been planning on installing smoke alarms but hadn’t been able to find the time and financial resources to do so. She was incredibly thankful for the smoke alarm installation and home fire prevention education materials.
We continued our path down 56th Street. The next few homes we visited weren’t as successful. As we were leaving a door hangar, a woman came up to us. She heard our knocks but didn’t make it to the door on time. She was excited to have us install smoke alarms in her home. She is a grandmother of six and even though she lives alone, her grandkids visit her all the time. She then proceeded to call her neighbors. She wanted everyone on her block to have fire alarms installed! Her enthusiasm and love for her community was the highlight of our day.