Sounding the alarm for fire safety

Sounding the alarm for fire safety

The St. Charles City Fire Department has partnered with the American Red Cross for the Sound the Alarm a program to install smoke detectors

By Brett Auten

According to the American Red Cross, every day, seven people die in home fires, most in homes that lack working smoke alarms.

To combat that statistic, the St. Charles City Fire Department has partnered with the American Red Cross for the Sound the Alarm, a smoke detector installation event. Sound the Alarm is a series of home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events across the country

The event will take place on Saturday and the St. Charles City Fire Department will be targeting one area in each of its stations’ first due areas (an area in which a company is expected to be the first to arrive on a fire scene) to install detectors. 

“We have established a target of 200 smoke detectors for this event,” St. Charles Fire Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hunsel said. “If this target is met, there will be 200 families that will sleep safer in our community that night.”

The neighborhoods included are Deerfield, Elm Point, Fox Run, and Town West mobile home parks as well as St. Charles Heights in the Frenchtown area. Crews will work with Red Cross personnel, CERT, and volunteers to install the smoke detectors.  The times for the event is 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.   

The weeks and days before the event, on-duty crews were out and about placing door hangers in the targeted areas with information on how to request a smoke detector.

Hunsel grew up in St. Charles. In fact, her engine house is on the same street where she grew up. She has been with the department for 13 years, spending four years as a captain before segueing into her current role as a public information officer. According to Hunsel, the Red Cross approached the St. Charles City Fire Department to partner with them on this event because it has been successfully working with them when it came to installing smoke detectors per the Red Cross’ requests.

“We will install a maximum of three smoke detectors per house because we feel that will give good coverage throughout the home,” Hunsel said. “Each detector will have a 10-year battery that you cannot take out and reinstall. We have had many calls where the smoke detector either didn’t work or because there weren’t any batteries in them.”  

St. Charles City and St. Louis County are both taking part in the Sound the Alarm program. 

“This is our first time participating in the Sound the Alarm program,” Hunsel said. “We were supposed to last fall, but the hurricanes had the Red Cross tied up doing other things.”   

A critical part of the Sound the Alarm campaign, besides installing free smoke alarms, is being able to canvass at-risk neighborhoods, replace, and provide fire prevention and safety education. 

Hunsel and the rest of the St. Charles City Fire Department members will not only be joined by Red Cross volunteers, but Community Emergency Response Team volunteers as well. 

If you are looking to help volunteer, Hunsel encourages you to call 636-949-3250. She also added that you do not need to live in the neighborhoods as mentioned above to get a new smoke alarm or to have batteries replaced, just call your local firehouse to make an appointment.

CUTLINE: Photo by Ray Rockwell St. Charles Fire Department Public Information Officer Kelly Hunsel and the rest of the fire department will participate in Sound the Alarm, a smoke detector installation event.