These houses on Plover Street in St. Louis are on the same block, but the stories within them couldn’t be farther apart.
Two winters ago, home fires ignited in both houses. One home had smoke alarms provided by the American Red Cross. That family also received Red Cross fire safety education. The second house had no working alarms and the family hadn’t received fire safety training. All five survived the fire in the first house. Tragically, two children died in the second home. The Red Cross is trying to prevent that anguish. If your home doesn’t have working smoke alarms, please call 314.516.2707. The Red Cross will make an appointment to install alarms for you.
Home Fire Campaign Installs Smoke Alarms In Amish Community
Red Cross Disaster Services Team installs smoke alarms in the Amish community of Clark.
After reaching out to town elders, Red Cross disaster services manager Kath Mayne and volunteer Brian Rickard were able to explain to leaders in Clark, Missouri, that smoke alarms would be not only be beneficial, but lifesaving. Clark, an Amish community, typically shuns technology – including phones and smoke alarms, but after multiple conversations with the Red Cross team, the elders realized that the most important thing was to protect their residents. Kath and Brian assured town elders that the alarms did not have hidden cameras or recording devices. The Red Cross duo explained that because the community heats their wooden homes with fire, home fires are a real threat. Making the situation worse, phones are generally unavailable, so first responders would be delayed. Clark residents need as much warning as possible to prevent senseless deaths and injuries. The free alarms -- provided and installed by the Red Cross -- would save lives.
After months of meetings with elders and community members, Red Cross volunteers canvassed Clark, installing 154 free alarms in 53 homes. Although generally warry of outsiders, the Amish households accepted the alarm installations gratefully because of the extraordinary partnership built by the Red Cross team. During the canvassing event, Brian installed three alarms in the small home of Ellen and Allen Miller, an elderly couple who often had grandchildren stay for the night. Brian carefully went through a fire safety plan with the couple, talking through escape routes and setting up a meeting place outside the home. Brian explained that without a meeting place, family members can tragically die returning to fire, looking for someone who is safe outside. Everyone needed to know the drill.
Less than three months later, an overnight fire ignited in the Miller’s basement, fireplace cleanout. They woke to an alarm and very quickly realized they had to evacuate their home. Had it not been for the recently installed alarms, the couple may have learned of the fire too late.