Volunteers, firefighters install smoke detectors for local elderly

Part of an ongoing smoke detector installation program by the Red Cross

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Western Massachusetts Red Cross installed dozens of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at Hampden Village in Westfield, to help ensure the safety of older residents who live there.

Westfield Fire Deputy Chief Eric Bishop told 22News, “I asked people, ‘How many detectors over 10 years?’ A third of them had no working smoke detectors.”

The Red Cross is in the midst of a five year smoke detector installation program throughout the Pioneer Valley. “It’s a great feeling to go and make people safer,” said John Hawley. “I’m part of the disaster activities team. We go to fires where it’s already too late.”

Related: Smoke detectors can save lives and money

In Westfield, the Red Cross and the fire department work with the Council on Aging, which hopes to prevent a repeat of any fires in which older people have died in recent years. “One of them had no smoke detectors in the house,” Tina Gorman explained, “and then we had an elderly couple whose smoke detectors were not working.”

When the volunteers installed her new working detectors, Joelle Thibido felt relieved. “When you’re living alone you never know if something would happen to the house would go up in flames, I’d be homeless.”

Chief Bishop also provided a demonstration video that shows how quickly a home can go up in flames in just a matter of minutes.