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Former NFL Great Promotes Home Fire Safety in Compton

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I'm proud to be back home in my community installing free smoke alarms and saving lives.

Esteemed NFL veteran, Compton native, and ESPN/ESPN radio host Marcellus Wiley huddled with Red Cross volunteers at Compton’s Burrell-Macdonald Park on Sat., Oct. 15, but he wasn’t there to talk football.  

Instead, the former football pro joined the Red Cross L.A. Region by going door-to-door in Compton neighborhoods as part of the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign to help install nearly 200 free smoke alarms donated by Kidde. 

In addition to Kidde, the Compton Fire Department, the Compton Initiative and other local community members joined nearly 80 volunteers helping 260 residents prepare for a home fire.

“Over the past 18 months, the Compton Fire Department has called the American Red Cross 41 times to assist with home fires in Compton,” said Wiley, at a meeting prior to the installation. “I’m proud to be back home in my community, installing free smoke alarms, making fire escape plans and saving lives.” 

Other participants included: Compton Fire Department Chief Bryan Batiste, Scott Will, Kidde Fire Safety and National Merchandising Manager-Pro Direct/E-Commerce, Jarrett Barrios, CEO, American Red Cross Los Angeles Region, and Margaret Arbini-Madonna, Executive Director, Red Cross of Greater Long Beach and Rio Hondo. 

“You may have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home before being succumbed by toxic fumes or fire,” said Jarrett Barrios, CEO for the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. “You don’t have time to think, only to react. Studies show, and fire experts agree, that having working smoke alarms in your home can increase your chance of surviving a home fire by 50 percent.” 

In addition to installing the new Kidde smoke alarms with sealed, 10-year batteries, volunteers also shared critical disaster preparedness information and assisted families in creating emergency escape plans, a key step to surviving any type of disaster, large or small.

The Compton event is part of the American Red Cross’ PrepareSoCal campaign, which focuses on the needs of individuals and families to prepare for disasters, small and large, and to promote community resiliency within the most vulnerable communities. The Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness efforts aim to reduce home fire deaths and injuries across the nation by 25 percent over the next five years. On average home fires occur two to three times a day in the Los Angeles area. 

The American Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters a year and most of these are home fires. To date, the Red Cross Los Angeles Region has installed 9,000 smoke alarms in vulnerable communities throughout the L.A. area. 

 For more information on PrepareSoCal, go to

(Photos by Mimi Teller)

See more photos of the event by visiting the RedCrossLa Facebook page: 

Photo above: NFL great Marcellus Wiley (center) joins Compton Initiative volunteer, Red Cross volunteer and members of the Compton Fire Department in installing three smoke alarms at the home of Compton residents Francisco Romero, Violeta Lopez and her children. The family also made a fire escape plan.