Red Cross of Utah sees increase in smoke alarm installation requests, in need of volunteers

Dec 4, 2023, 6:37 PM | Updated: 6:54 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross said it has seen in increase in requests for free smoke alarm installations. The need is so great, more volunteers are needed.

Within the last two weeks, officials said 150 requests have been made, which happens to be the same number of installations done so far this year.

Richard Desiena took advantage of the program and waited three weeks until a group of volunteers came to his mobile home Monday afternoon.

“(I saw) a commercial about three weeks ago stating they were offering smoke detectors and I was living on borrowed one so I thought that if they’re willing to give me one I’d go with it,” he said.

The increase is not just in Utah but nationwide as well. Ashley Sheehy, preparedness and community resilience manager for the Red Cross, attributed the increase to local ads, the time change, and after other fires happen.

“We are trying to reduce that impact of disaster on our local communities we can’t do that unless we have volunteers,” she said. She added that they are hoping potential volunteers can donate one or two days out of their month to keep up with demand.

“We’re struggling to keep up with the need because we don’t have regular teams who can go out.”

Sheehy said it’s common for people to not have working smoke alarms or people don’t know that their smoke alarms do not work — which is why she said the free program is so impactful.

“We do tend to see [an] elderly, older population. Immigrant families as well who don’t know when the last time their smoke alarm was tested. We recently went to a household in Murray and they had one smoke alarm from 1996 in their three story home,” she said.

Volunteers in groups of two or three try to visit five homes a day checking smoke alarms and the batteries, or installing up to four alarms in a home.

“We also talk them through how to stay safe it there is a home fire, getting out in under two minutes, creating a home fire escape plan, having two escape areas from each room,” Sheehy said.

Despite waiting several weeks, Desiena said the group of Red Cross volunteers were “splendid” and feels more comfortable knowing his smoke alarms work.

“If you got some degree of prevention that’s a good thing,” he said.

If you would like to volunteer with the Sound the Alarm program, visit redcross.org/volunteer or contact the Red Cross at preparedness.utnv@redcross.org.

To request a free smoke alarm, click here: SoundTheAlarm.org/Utah

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Red Cross of Utah sees increase in smoke alarm installation requests, in need of volunteers