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Kankakee Family Credits Smoke Alarm for Escaping Fire Unharmed


For Immediate Release


Contact: Ken Cozzi, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of the Illinois River Valley

 (630) 378-0344 x 6168 (Office) | 312-907-2010 (Cell) | 312-907-0520 (24/7 Media Line) |


Kankakee Family Credits Smoke Alarm for Escaping Fire Unharmed 


(JOLIET, IL) March 22, 2018 — The American Red Cross is happy to announce a family in Kankakee was able to escape a terrible home fire unharmed thanks to smoke alarms previously installed by the Kankakee Fire Department and volunteers with the Red Cross.

In January of 2017, 24-year-old Marsean Harris found herself standing outside her Kankakee home with her children watching as their house went up in flames. Early that morning, the loud and clear beeping sound of their smoke alarm alerted everyone that a fire had broken out somewhere inside. Harris, her 21-year-old boyfriend and her two children, quickly got out of the house through the front door and a window. Harris says she is thankful for those smoke alarms for saving her entire family. Their four lives were saved that day, as well as her unborn baby. At the time of the fire, Harris was unaware that she was expecting a baby girl.  

Before Harris and her family had moved into that home on Bourbonnais Street in Kankakee, free smoke alarms had been installed in the house through a partnership between the American Red Cross of the Illinois River Valley Chapter and the Kankakee Fire Department. Under Captain Michael Casagrande’s leadership, more than 10,000 smoke alarms have been installed across the city of Kankakee since 2015. Due to his lifelong dedication to fire safety, Captain Casagrande is being honored as a Red Cross Hero at the upcoming Heroes Breakfast on May 3, 2018. For more information on the Chicago Heroes Breakfast, click here.

“We are proud to partner with the Kankakee Fire Department and install these smoke alarms for local families,” said Ken Cozzi, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of the Illinois River Valley. “We also provide fire safety education and help residents create a fire escape plan as part of our mission to reduce the number of tragedies caused by home fires.”

This spring, the American Red Cross is partnering with local fire departments to install life-saving smoke alarms in an effort to help reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by home fires. The Sound the Alarm, Save a Life campaign will install 2,000 free smoke alarms over the course of four weeks across northern Illinois. Sound the Alarm will kick off on April 28 in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. The Red Cross is issuing a call for volunteers to help with the upcoming installation events. Visit to apply to be a volunteer.

There will be additional Sound the Alarm installation events across northern Illinois including three events across LaSalle County on May 5 and one event in Joliet on May 19. More information will be provided.

Nationwide, the Red Cross will Sound the Alarm through a series of smoke alarm installation and fire safety events in more than 100-high-risk communities. From April 28 through May 19, Red Cross volunteers and partners will install 100,000 free smoke alarms. These events are related to the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, which since 2014 has helped save lives through smoke alarm installations and home fire safety education in thousands of communities.


The Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters a year, the majority of which are home fires. Home fires represent a significant threat to our communities, which is why the Red Cross launched the nationwide Home Fire Campaign and rallied an army of volunteers, donors, and partners to canvass high-risk neighborhoods, install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms and help families create escape plans. 


About the American Red Cross of the Illinois River Valley:

The American Red Cross of the Illinois River Valley serves 1.1 million people in six counties in Northern Illinois including Kankakee, Will, Grundy, Kendall, LaSalle and Putnam. The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit us at or visit us on Twitter @RedCrossILRiver.