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Maine’s Home Fire Preparedness Mobile Unit Team

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Lewiston residents, Jim Lipps and John Johnson are taking to the streets on their bicycles to spread the word about the Red Cross home fire preparedness campaign. Not having a driver’s license won’t stop these two Red Cross volunteers from ensuring families in the Central and Mid Coast region of Maine are safe from home fires.

Jim and John will be pedaling hundreds of miles on their bicycles through communities across the Central and Mid Coast region of Maine as they visit hundreds of homes. Not only will they be installing free smoke alarms in homes but they will be speaking with residents about fire safety tips and helping them to develop emergency escape plans.

After a recent home fire destroyed a Lewiston residence and left the homeowner hospitalized, Jim and John decided to form a mobile home fire preparedness team. "We feel that this community has suffered enough loss and we hope to ensure this does not happen again, any time soon," said John Johnson who was born and raised in Lewiston.

As these two volunteers ride their bicycles throughout neighborhoods, “people often come out of their homes to speak with us. Our Red Cross vests stand out and people are curious as to what we are doing with smoke alarms strapped to the back of our bicycles,” said John. “Riding bikes, rather than driving, increases our visibility in the community, as well as our ability to reach an increased number of homes during the day.” 

Both, Jim and John, share our mission to provide relief to individuals impacted by disasters and to help prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies but Jim’s story on why he became involved with the Red Cross home fire preparedness campaign is quite personal. “Many years ago, I was involved in a deadly fire and to save my life, I had to jump out a second floor window.  As I educate individuals about the importance of home fire safety, I often tell them this story so they understand just how important it is to have working smoke alarms and why families should create escape plans.”

“After we install smoke alarms in a home, the owner is so thankful and appreciative,” said Jim.  When Jim and John reflect upon the work they are doing in their community, both men expressed such gratitude “knowing that they are leaving homes safer than when they first arrived.”

If you are driving in the Central and Mid Coast region of Maine, keep an eye out for Jim and John who will be riding around on their bicycles with Red Cross vests on and a box of smoke alarms strapped to back of their bicycles.

For those interested in volunteering with the American Red Cross in Maine, visit www.redcross.org/local/maine/volunteer">http://www.redcross.org/local/maine/volunteer to learn how you can get involved.