Red Cross, partner volunteers install more than 200 free smoke alarms in San Jose


Volunteers are briefed at the beginning of the day’s installation activities.

More than 70 volunteers from the Silicon Valley Chapter and from two Red Cross partners (ARM and the Miss & Mrs. Vietnam USA) met on Saturday, January 19, at the La Buona Vita Mobile Home Park to Sound the Alarm by providing residents there with free smoke detectors.

The San Jose Fire Department was also on hand to provide its support and fire safety experience. Fire Chief Robert Sapein Jr. gave an inspiring pep talk on the importance of the work, saying that mobile homes can sometimes lack fire resistant materials and alternative ingress/egress routes — greatly increasing the need for smoke alarms and the the escape time they provide a home’s occupants.

More than 200 alarms were installed at the park that day, making 158 residents safer in 69 of the 108 homes in the community.

Noah’s Bagels kindly donated breakfast, and Lee’s Sandwiches generously donated lunch for the teams.

Initial training was provided by chapter volunteer leaders Liz Dietz, Terry Unter, and Doug Moses-Batson.

The volunteers were the divided into nine teams that installed smoke alarms and provide training to residents.

Each team had an “installer” responsible for the actual installation; an “educator” who helped families create an escape plan, learn about local safety hazards such as earthquakes, and receive information on how to prepare for them; and a “documenter” who recorded the number of alarms installed and demographics of the family.

The event was a great success, serving 64 percent of the residents of La Buona Vita, the highest percentage of those served at a Red Cross “Sound The Alarm” event so far in San Jose.

The Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters a year, the majority of which are home fires. Working smoke alarms in a home cut the risk of death in half, and having an escape plan further improves the odds of survival. The Red Cross wants to end these tragedies and save lives, which is the goal of the Home Fire Campaign the organization launched in 2014.