WHITE CITY, Ore.– In an effort to prevent people from losing their homes and possibly their lives, several local groups and agencies partnered together to help install smoke alarms free of charge to two neighborhoods in Jackson County.
Throughout the day on Saturday, the local American Red Cross joined with Jackson County Fire District 3 and Charter Communications to install smoke alarms for residences in the Thunderbird Mobile Home Park in White City and The Meadows Mobile Home Park in Central Point.
“Smoke alarms are the first tool that you can have in your house for early notification,” said Ashley Blakely, Fire and Life Safety Specialist for District 3.
While fire season is coming to a close, homes are still at risk. According to the Red Cross, the organization has been working on reducing the amount of deaths associated with fires including those involving homes. Saturday’s event was part of a multi-year effort to reduce fire deaths and injuries as well as add to the more than a quarter million smoke alarms the organization has helped install in homes.
One person who knows this risk well is Butch Sutton, in-park manager for the Thunderbird Mobile Home Park. A while back, he had a similar experience with fires threatening people’s lives.
“A month ago or a month and a half ago we had a small electrical fire and it was my neighbor,” he said. “The smoke alarm didn’t go off so I got to thinking just how many smoke alarms are bad in the mobile homes that we’ve got on site here.”
After that incident, Sutton reached out to District 3 to see what could be done to help assist homeowners in the area. Turns out, quite a bit. According to District 3, after visiting over 400 homes and installing smoke alarms in 82 across both mobile home parks, 203 alarms were installed throughout the day.
“The first house did have a couple that were in working order,” said Deana Cornett, a field operations manager for Spectrum who described several of the houses she met with. “The second one we did replace. But not nearly as many as there should be in the homes.”
She said that many of them had some smoke alarms but more often than not, there just weren’t enough.
“Most of them had one maybe two and there should be at least one in every bedroom and in the hallway and in the kitchen,” she said.
Over the day around 30 volunteers helped to install the smoke alarms as well as inform residents about what they should do in case of a fire.
“If you hear the smoke alarm you get out right away,” said Blakely. “You never go in so we always say, ‘Get out, Stay out,’ and then find a centralized meeting location so if you aren’t together you know where to go.”
But ultimately, what was most important was the safety provided for these residents.
“They need to take advantage of it because it benefits them,” said Sutton. “It also benefits me because I hate to see people lose their homes from fire.”
Jackson County Fire District 3 also recommends that homeowners test their smoke alarms each month and replace them every 10 years. The district does offer smoke alarms and can show you how to correctly install them if you would like to learn.
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.