APS, fire department, Red Cross reach across Akron with more smoke alarms, smoke detector hotline
— Akron Public Schools last week lost two students due to a tragic house fire, and fires in Akron have claimed 14 lives since last December, according to the Akron Fire Department.
As a result, the school system is encouraging the 20,000-plus student body to fan out through Akron to help save lives.
Fire Department Lt. Sierjie Lash says the department has, for some time now, been partners with the American Red Cross to provide and install smoke alarms and distribute fire safety education to Akron residents. The project, “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life,” aims to reduce the number of fire-related fatalities throughout the community over the next three years.
Lash says the fire department and Red Cross are focused. “We currently have the entire fire department working together with the American Red Cross to install smoke alarms. Missing or non-working smoke alarms are an important factor in each of these fires. We want to give all of our residents, especially our children, a better chance of survival,” the lieutenant said.
According to Red Cross Executive Director Rachel Telegdy, the program is simple and effective. “All people have to do is call our hotline at (330) 535-2030. We’ll make an appointment for trained Red Cross volunteers or Akron firefighters to come out and install these lifesaving devices in the home, at no cost to the resident.”
Now, the Red Cross and fire department have another partner. Akron Public Schools this week will equip each student with the educational materials from “Save a Life” to take home and share with parents and guardians.
“Children want to help,” said Akron Public Schools Superintendent David W. James. “When our students learned that we lost two more students in a house fire — and remembered the other seven who died this year in similar fashion — they wanted to do something to make a difference: to make our community a safer place to live.”
By mobilizing thousands of students at once, and so soon after the most recent deadly fire, the hope of the partners is that awareness of the program will grow to become even more effective. Teachers and principals throughout the district have come up with other ideas and will be working with students in other ways to achieve the same outcome: smoke alarms in every home.
“We can’t have too many people working on this,” said Lash. “If any one of the three homes had been properly equipped, these children would have at least had a chance of surviving.”