Volunteer Spotlight: Melba & Jim Walters, Smoke Alarm Install Day in Bethel, AK

By: Stephen Fisher, Red Cross of Alaska Preparedness Specialist

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Melba and Jim Walters at the Bethel Fire Department, preparing to install nearly 100 smoke alarms in the community. Photo Credit: Ralph Radford, Radford Photography 

Red Cross of Alaska volunteers, Melba and Jim Walters and I returned to Bethel last month to continue the smoke alarm installations that we began a year ago. With partnership and support from the Bethel Fire Department, we navigated the neighborhoods of Bethel door to door to offer a free smoke alarm and review some information on fire safety. As a community that witnessed two fire fatalities several months ago, our installations brought a profound sense of mission. Each doorstep we visited offered an opportunity to meet and talk to a different family, however briefly, and feel welcomed into their homes in Bethel. One woman kept thanking us non-stop as we reached for her ceiling and tested her smoke alarms. In another home, a child shared a curious smile as we drew an escape plan together. In total, we installed nearly 100 alarms for homes throughout Bethel. As a small group of volunteers, we did it with thanks to the residents of that community and the Bethel Fire Department. Now we move forward with our Home Fire Campaign and expand outward to the villages and rural communities of the Yukon-Kusokwin Delta!



HOME FIRE CAMPAIGN Seven times a day someone in this country dies in a fire. The Red Cross has been working to reduce that number through its Home Fire Campaign, a multi-year effort to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent. Launched in October of 2014, the Red Cross and thousands of campaign partners have helped save numerous lives through the effort, as well as installing hundreds of thousands of smoke alarms in homes all across the country.

The Red Cross Home Fire Campaign Resources:

  • Download a free home-fire-escape-plan to plot your home fire escape routes
  • Home_Fire_Safety_Checklist
  • If you are in need of smoke alarms in your home, please contact the Red Cross of Alaska at 646- 5422. We will schedule an appointment to install 10-year smoke alarms in your home free of charge.



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