A program aimed at making households across the U.S. safer, by helping homeowners install free smoke detectors, will take place at the end of next month.

As one of many Fire Departments involved in the event, the Hermon Fire Department announced the news on its Facebook Page today:

"SOUND THE ALARM! Smoke Alarm that is!... Now is your chance to register to be a part of the American Red Cross Sound The Alarm event!"

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Regional Communications Director for the Red Cross of Northern New England, Jennifer Costa, says the "Sound The Alarm Program" has saved over 1200 lives since it began in 2014.

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"The Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign in October 2014 to reduce home fire-related deaths and injuries. Our goal is to install 2.5 million smoke alarms and make 1 million households safer in at-risk neighborhoods nationwide, as well as to educate families about home fire safety through free youth preparedness programs and the campaign’s Sound the Alarm activities."

Aaron Savage, Townsquare Media
Aaron Savage, Townsquare Media

Costa says it's very easy to sign up for the event and it's available to anyone who lives in Greater Bangor, Hampden, Glenburn, Hermon, Brewer, Veazie, and Orono.

"Our annual Sound the Alarm event will be happening in the Greater Bangor area on April 30th. Working smoke alarm can cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half. That’s why our teams of trained volunteers will be installing free smoke alarms for anyone who needs them. We just ask folks to visit redcross.org/EndHomeFiresNNE or call 1-800-464-6692 to make an appointment."

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Hermon Fire Chief Frank Roma says this has been a successful way to get detectors into homes and installed correctly.

"The Red Cross has been a great partner to get smoke alarms into as many homes as possible, so whenever they do one of these big campaigns like this, we're always happy to partner with them."


Roma says that while it's rare nowadays to find homes that don't have smoke alarms, it's not rare to find homes that don't have working smoke alarms.

"The problem is over time, a lot of smoke alarms are not maintained or become inoperative or just get old. New construction generally requires the installation of smoke alarms, but existing homes, that may have been in place for a number of years, that's where we tend to find most of the issues with folks that have smoke alarms but oftentimes they're not working or don't have batteries even. "

Roma says this weekend's Daylight Saving Time is a great opportunity to check the smoke detectors already in the home, or to even get some new ones.

Old Home Burns Down

"We often use the change of time to encourage people to change the batteries in the smoke alarms; twice a year is great at least a year. Especially if you have older-style smoke alarms.

A few dollars worth of batteries, Roma says, is well worth the possibility that lives might be saved.

"It's a great insurance policy. A majority of fatal fires that occur in private residences occur at night when people are asleep. And smoke alarms have been proven to reduce the incidence of fatal fires but up to 50%.  "

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During the Sound The Alarm program, what typically happens is that once each Fire Department gets a list of folks who sign up for the service, they team up with local volunteers to go into each home on the list and install the unit.

Costa says the smoke alarms are provided by the Red Cross.

"Donations to Red Cross Home Fire Relief, in support of the campaign, are used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from home fires. This includes preparedness efforts like providing free smoke alarms and home fire safety education, as well as helping affected families recover from home fires with support like relief supplies, emotional support, recovery planning and other assistance. "

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Annually, Costa says home fires represent most of the more than 60,000 disasters that the Red Cross responds to in the U.S.

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