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Home Fire Campaign – Smoke Alarm Helps Queens Woman Find Peace of Mind

Sound the Alarm

The American Red Cross needs 35,000 volunteers to Sound the Alarm this fall to install 100,000 free smoke alarms in more than 100 major cities across the country, helping to save lives and lessen the number of tragedies attributed to home fires.

Sound the Alarm is part of the ongoing Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, in which Red Cross volunteers and partners canvass high-risk neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms and help families create escape plans.

Since the Home Fire Campaign began in 2014, it is credited with already saving 260 lives. Red Cross volunteers and partners have installed almost 942,000 free smoke alarms in 11,080 towns and cities across the entire country. Here is one woman’s story of how a smoke alarm installed in her home kept her safe.


In late April of this year, an unthinkable tragedy shook an entire community: four Queens Village children and one adult perished in a home fire on 208th St. The youngest victim was only two years old.

Roberte Marcelin, a resident of Queens Village for 30 years, remembers the tragedy vividly, and like many of her neighbors, the gravity of the loss weighed heavily on her, even triggering worry about her own safety in the event of a fire. “After the fire, that lady lost four kids,” Marcellin said. “One night, I went to bed, and I was thinking about a fire in this place…I could not fall to sleep.” Sharing in his mother’s concern, Marcellin’s son suggested reaching out to the American Red Cross for a free smoke alarm.

Marcellin obliged and scheduled an appointment with the Red Cross. Three volunteers soon arrived at her home, educating her about fire safety and installing three smoke alarms in the house. “After the alarms were installed, I felt safer,” Marcellin said. However, Marcellin never expected that she would rely on the smoke alarms so quickly.

A week after the new smoke alarms were installed, Marcellin had just finished cooking and was preparing to go to church when she had an uneasy feeling. She said it was as if something was telling her not to leave her home. Suddenly, the smoke alarm went off.

“I opened the basement door, and I saw smoke,” Marcellin said. A fire had broken out in her basement. “I felt like my throat was burning…and I felt like I’m not going to be able to catch my breath.” Marcellin immediately rushed to her neighbor’s home and called the fire department. Firefighters arrived within minutes and extinguished the fire.

The fire severely damaged Marcellin’s basement. Without the Red Cross, the smoke alarms and the quick response of the fire department, her entire home and even her life could have been lost. “Without the Red Cross alarm, we’d be in a lot of trouble,” Marcellin said. “What the Red Cross is doing is very humane and very nice…Everybody working for the Red Cross, may God bless them.”


Join this Red Cross effort today by volunteering to install smoke alarms in your community, make a financial contribution, or take steps to protect your own family from home fires. Together, we can Sound the Alarm about fire safety and help save lives.

Visit to find events in your local community and join neighbors in going door-to-door to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms and help families create escape plans. Make this life-saving campaign a group activity. Invite friends and family to register.

Donate to help Sound the Alarm. Save a life. Visit to help families prepare, respond and recover from home fires. Your donation will help educate families on fire safety; install free smoke alarms in high-risk neighborhoods nationwide; and provide food, comfort and aid to those who have been affected by a home fire.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.