Looking out at the lush fruit trees and neat rows of houses, Martin Lopez remembers a childhood spent riding his bike through these familiar streets in Rosemead. On Saturday morning, he returned to his community, blocks from where he grew up, to install free fire alarms and educate residents about fire safety.
Lopez, a Southern California Edison Construction and Material coordinator, along with other volunteers from Edison International and the American Red Cross, went door to door as part of the American Red Cross’ PrepareSoCal campaign to help vulnerable communities get ready for emergencies.
“We visited homes that looked like the one I grew up in and it brought back a lot of memories. Growing up, we didn’t have fire alarms either,” said Lopez, who currently lives in West Covina. “I felt a lot of gratitude to be able to give back to the community where I grew up. They were so appreciative and by educating them, we can really save lives.”
Equipped with boxes of fire alarms and first-aid kits, more than 120 volunteers knocked on doors to meet with interested residents. Volunteers surveyed the home for vulnerable spots, installed more than 300 fire alarm devices and explained how to prepare evacuation plans in the resident’s native languages, including Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese.
During the visit from Edison International and Red Cross volunteers, Rosemead resident Xin Tian Pan discovered that his two existing fire alarms were out of batteries. They soon helped him install three new fire alarms with a 10-year life span and showed Pan how to routinely check the device.
“I know how important it is to have working fire alarms, but it’s not something I really think about. I feel safer now knowing that I have them all around the house,” said Pan.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department estimates that in about 60 percent of house fire fatalities, the homes did not have working fire alarms. In a fire, residents have about two minutes to escape and early notification from the shrill beep of a fire alarm may mean the difference between life and death.
Through community outreach and volunteer efforts, Edison International hopes to remove cost and language barriers that may hinder residents from being prepared in emergencies.
“We are neighbors, friends, parents who live and work here and that’s why we believe in making our communities stronger, because we are a part of them. We want to invest not just our dollars but our people power,” said Tami Bui, principal manager of Corporate Philanthropy at SCE.
To learn more about how to sign up for a free fire detection device, visit: www.redcross.org/lahomefire.