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Koreatown Coalition Joins Red Cross to Reduce Home Fires

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“I ask community members to join us, so we can help ourselves during disasters large and small."

Jan. 18, 2016 - In a salute to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, multilingual (Spanish and Korean-speaking) volunteers from the PrepareLA Koreatown Resiliency Coalition and the Red Cross Los Angeles Region went door-to-door on Jan. 16 in L.A.’s Koreatown neighborhood, installing 150 free smoke alarms in area homes. 

This effort, part of the national Red Cross Home Fire Prevention Campaign to reduce home fires and save lives, included individuals representing 25 PrepareLA Koreatown Resiliency Coalition organizations and Red Cross volunteers who canvased homes in the community near the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools. 

The Koreatown area was selected for three key reasons according to Red Cross Executive Director Julie Thomas, who coordinated the Koreatown community’s participation in this Red Cross campaign. These include:

• Population density - Koreatown is the most densely populated neighborhood in Greater Los Angeles with over 90% of the people living in apartments; 

• Diversity –This area is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Greater L.A., with a variety of languages spoken; and

• Home Fires Incidents – Koreatown has the highest number of home fire incidents per capita. 

In 2015, the American Red Cross L.A. Region provided assistance to families and individuals affected by six major fires inthe Koreatown area. The Red Cross says working smoke alarms increase the probability of surviving a home fire by 50%. The PrepareLA Koreatown Coalition members will work with the Red Cross to reduce fire related deaths by 25% over a five year period and prepare individuals and families for disasters.

“Koreatown is not prepared,” said Chang Lee, president, Olympic Boosters Association. “The PrepareLA Koreatown Coalition is addressing specific vulnerabilities our community has, and I look forward to working with the Coalition and the Red Cross to build a more resilient Koreatown.” 

Scott Suh, Koreatown Wilshire Center Neighborhood Council, added, “I’m asking our community members to join us and help usorganize so we can help ourselves during disasters large and small.” 

And Deputy Raul Claros from Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr.’s Office said: “Council District 10 is all in.” The Red Cross thanks all the Coalition community leadership in Koreatown, including the offices of City Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr., Congressman Xavier Becerra, Senate Pro Tem Kevin DeLeon and Assembly Member Miguel Santiago. Other local partners include LAUSD, LAFD, LAPD Olympic Division, Community Police Advisory Board - Olympic Station and Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools. 

The PrepareLA Koreatown Resiliency Coalition also includes: Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Aztecs Rising, City of Los Angeles - Emergency Management, Community Police Advisory Board - Olympic Station, Homies Unidos, K2 Los Angeles, Korean American Federation, Korean Youth Community Center, Little Bangladesh Improvements, Inc., MacArthur Park Neighborhood Council, O-Cert, Olympic Booster, Association – OBA Foundation, Olympic Neighborhood Watch, Professional Community, Intervention Training Institute, Wilshire BID, Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council, Youth Policy Institute, Pacific American Volunteer Association (PAVA), and the Korean Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA). 

The initiative in Koreatown is part of the American Red Cross’ PrepareSoCal campaign, a multi-region effort designed to address the needs of individuals and families to prepare for disasters, small and large, by providing tips, tools, and training, and to promote community resiliency with a focus on Southern California’s most vulnerable communities. 

To date, the Los Angeles Region of the American Red Cross and community partners have installed more than 3,000 free smokealarms since October 2014. Over 100,000 smoke alarms have been installed across the country and there have been 15 documented lives saved across the nation due to this important program. 

 Photo credit (this page): Roxanne Schorbach and( page)Leigh Green and Bing Lu.