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Volunteers Honor Dr. King with MLK Day Newark Fire Safety Event

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We are proud to honor the legacy of Dr. King by joining together with partners to help save lives.

In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, more than 100 volunteers went door-to-door in neighborhoods in Newark’s Central, West and South Wards installing free smoke alarms and educating families about fire safety as part of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. 


“We are proud to honor the legacy of Dr. King by joining together with Newark, PSE&G and other corporate and community partners to help save lives,” said Ana Montero, CEO, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “Thanks to their service, hundreds of people in Newark are better prepared should a fire occur in their homes and have the tools to help them take simple steps to prevent home fires.”

Volunteers knocked on the doors of more than 1,500 Newark homes, including that of 74-year-old Ernestine Caldwell, whose smoke alarms had recently stopped working. After installing new smoke alarms in Ernestine’s home, volunteers showed her how to create a fire escape plan to protect her and her family. 

“This is great,” she said. “My grandchildren are going to have a surprise fire drill. Thank you for doing this.”

Together with the City of Newark Department of Public Safety, including Newark Fire and Office of Emergency Management Divisions, volunteers from the Red Cross, PSE&G, Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, HOPE worldwide, Habitat for Humanity and Seton Hall installed more than 320 free smoke alarms and helped more than 165 Newark families create fire escape plans. 

“We have been conducting this joint venture with the American Red Cross on Martin Luther King Day for a number of years and look forward to continuing this worthwhile venture,” said Rufus Jackson, chief, Newark Fire Division. “It is just one way of giving back to our community. Such a small investment can have a dramatic impact on saving lives.”

Since the launch of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign in October 2014, the Red Cross New Jersey Region and partners have installed more than 16,000 free smoke alarms and have helped thousands of New Jersey families learn how to create a family fire escape plan.

WATCH VIDEO by Governor Livingston High School Red Cross Club member Ethan Kan.

SIMPLE STEPS TO SAVE LIVES As part of the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross is calling on everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: practice fire drills at home and check their existing smoke alarms.

There are several things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire:

- Create a home fire escape plan that includes at least two ways to escape each room and a meeting spot to reunite after escaping.

- Practice the plan until everyone can get out in less than two minutes.

- If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Local building codes vary and there may be additional requirements where someone lives.

- If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, replace them.

People can visit to find out more about how to protect themselves and their loved ones from fire, access free fire safety resources, and learn more about how to become a volunteer.