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Red Cross Brings Home Fire Preparedness Campaign to East Orange

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“I feel safer now that we have new smoke alarms,” said 5-year-old Jaleel of East Orange. “Thank you.”

As part of the American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, the Red Cross and the City of East Orange have teamed up to help reduce the number of home fire related deaths and injuries in East Orange.

Saturday, January 10 marked the first in a series of fire safety canvassing events to take place across East Orange. Nearly 60 volunteers from the Red Cross, the East Orange Fire Department, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and the East Orange Office of Emergency Management joined forces and went door-to-door visiting more than 300 homes in the city’s 4th and 5th wards offering free smoke alarm installation in homes that needed them. 


The canvassing event came a month after a tragic fire claimed the lives five East Orange residents, including a six-week old infant. 

“In the wake of the recent fatal fires, it is imperative that we, as a community, implement a strategic, comprehensive and proactive plan for fire prevention,” said Mayor Lester E. Taylor III of East Orange. “The Red Cross campaign allows us to target our oldest and most vulnerable neighborhoods and provide families with the information and tools needed to help prevent fires.” 

In addition to installing more than 130 smoke alarms, volunteers distributed fire safety information and spoke with families about what they can do now to be prepared should a fire break out in their home. 

LaCrystal Dillahunt returned home from food shopping to find Mayor Taylor and Fire Chief Charles Salley installing smoke detectors in her kitchen, living room and hallway. LaCrystal’s father Richard and son Jaleel had welcomed the Red Cross and East Orange team in for the installation a few moments earlier.

“Wow, isn’t this exciting!” expressed LaCrystal. “I read about this on and think it’s wonderful, but didn’t realize I’d have the installations being done by the mayor and fire chief themselves!”

LaCrystal discussed fire safety and the family’s fire escape plan with the Red Cross and how she will be practicing the plan with her parents and young son.

“I feel safer now that we have new smoke alarms,” said 5-year-old Jaleel. “Thank you.”

SEE VIDEO from News 12 New Jersey.

The Red Cross North Jersey Region is partnering with municipalities and fire department across the region to bring the American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign to high fire-risk cities across the northern half of the state. Last year, the Red Cross North Jersey Region responded to 494 local home fires to provide assistance to 1,130 displaced families. 

“We are grateful for the support of the City of East Orange, the East Orange Fire Department, and all of the community partners who have joined the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign,” said Steven Sarinelli, Regional Disaster Officer, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “We at the Red Cross see families every day who have experienced devastating home fires. We welcome the opportunity to reach families with smoke alarms and vital fire safety information that could help avert that devastation and potentially save lives.”

The Red Cross is asking every household across the country to get involved by taking two simple steps that can save lives: checking their existing smoke alarms and practicing their fire escape plan.

PRACTICE YOUR FIRE ESCAPE PLAN Fire experts agree that when a fire breaks out families have as little as two minutes to escape from their burning home. Regularly practiced fire escape plans ensure all members of your household know what to do should a fire occur. Make sure everyone is able to exit the home in less than two minutes. If you don’t have a fire escape plan, develop one today.

CHECK YOUR SMOKE ALARMS All residences should have properly installed, functioning smoke alarms. Check the batteries in your smoke alarms monthly and replace any that aren’t operational immediately. At minimum, smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.  

DON’T KNOW AS MUCH AS WE THINK The Red Cross fire prevention campaign comes at a time when a national survey shows many Americans have a false sense of security about surviving a fire.

The survey, conducted for the Red Cross, shows that people mistakenly believe they have more time than they really do to escape a burning home. Fire experts agree that people have as little as two minutes to escape a burning home. But most Americans (62 percent) mistakenly believe they have at least five minutes to escape, more than twice the amount they actually have.

You can help people affected by fires and countless other crises by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

LEARN MORE about fire safety and access free tools available from the Red Cross to help you and your family be better prepared.