The American Red Cross, in a joint partnership with the Fargo Fire Department, Fargo Cass Public Health, and the City of Fargo, canvassed 600 homes in the Madison Neighborhood by going door-to-door to provide information on fire safety and escape plans, along with checking smoke alarms. Nurses from Public Health provided free blood pressure checks and wellness exams as a part of the event.
In homes that were not up to code, smoke alarms were installed free of charge to residents. 225 were distributed throughout the neighborhood, including 82 year-old Donna Mclaren. Firefighters installed four new 10-years smoke alarms in her home, including two in the basement that had none previously. Mclaren's husband passed away a few months earlier so having this service was important for her.
"My husband used to take care of all these things," Mclaren said. "I sure am glad you all came around to take care of this for me."
Firefighters went on to explain what they had done in the home, while nurses performed a blood pressure check and provided information on wellness. Red Cross volunteers also distributed information on fire safety in the home. Mclaren indicated she did not have a Carbon Monoxide detector in the home and asked questions on where to install one.
"It is great to meet citizens face-to-face and have the interaction with them,” said Fargo Firefighter, Justin Werlinger. “We want people to feel comfortable and safe in their homes and we fielded a number of different questions.”
Education was also an important piece of the event as well. John and Sharon Maurer had a functioning smoke alarm the top floor of their home, but did not have one in their bedroom. It was a learning experience for the elderly couple.
“I had no idea we needed a smoke alarm in our room,” Sharon said. “It’s great what you all are doing and I think you are saving some lives today.”
The Red Cross plans more of these events in the Dakotas Region in the near future, working towards cutting home fire deaths by 25%.
“We greatly value all of the partners that come together to protect our communities from home fires,” said Red Cross Regional CEO, Judy Green. “It’s a team effort in every way.”