EAST ORANGE, NJ – As part of the American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, the Red Cross in partnership with the City of East Orange, will re-launch its home fire preparedness canvassing events in East Orange.

On Saturday, March 4th, volunteers from the Red Cross, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the East Orange Fire Department (EOFD) will be going to the 1st Ward between 10am-2pm to install smoke detectors in homes that need them. Volunteers, who will be identifiable by their uniforms and badges, will also be distributing fire safety information and talking to families about what they can do now to be prepared should a fire break out in their home.

Since the last home fire campaign, there have been several administrative changes in the city, including the consolidation of the Police, Fire and Emergency Management Divisions into the Department of Public Safety managed by Director Sheilah Coley. Fire Chief André Williams was also appointed chief earlier this year, making him the youngest fire chief in East Orange history.

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Both Coley and Williams are working closely to enhance new initiatives to increase fire prevention efforts, including continuation of a new Fire Explorers Program, which provides mentorship for young people, as well as partnering with other agencies like the Red Cross to deliver additional services and literature that can quite literally save lives.

Director Sheilah Coley emphasized the importance of speaking to elementary school students in particular year-round through the Fire Prevention Bureau.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fires started by play accounted for an average of 49,300 fires, national fire protection associations. Younger children were more likely to set fires in homes, while older children and teenagers set fires outside of the home.

 “This age is so critical because younger children are curious and may not understand the consequences of playing with fire,” said Coley.

Simple Steps to Save Lives

There are several things families and individuals can do to increase their chances of surviving a fire:

• If someone doesn’t have smoke alarms, install them. At a minimum, put one on every level of the home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Local building codes vary and there may be additional requirements where someone lives.

• If someone does have alarms, test them today. If they don’t work, replace them.

• Make sure that everyone in the family knows how to get out of every room and how to get out of the home in less than two minutes.

• Practice that plan. What’s the household’s escape time?

The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year in the United States and the vast majority of those are home fires. Throughout New Jersey, the Red Cross responded to 1,063 home fires last year, offering comfort to 1,680 families and meeting immediate needs such as shelter, food and clothing, referrals and mental health services as needed.

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org.

About the American Red Cross North Jersey Region
The American Red Cross North Jersey Region provides programs and services throughout the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren, with a combined population of 5.7 million. The region trains and mobilizes more than 3,330 volunteers who support the delivery of services in the community. Last year, the Red Cross North Jersey Region responded to 494 local home fires, helping 1,130 displaced families; collected 25,420 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; provided 1,877 military family case services with emergency messages, helping families find assistance and/or get counseling and referrals; and trained 60,441 individuals with life-saving skills in preparedness, CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics. Follow the North Jersey Region on Twitter @RedCrossNorthNJ.

Contacts:                                

Diane Concannon, 609-206-4043 (cell)                                     

diane.concannon@redcross.org  

Connie Jackson, 973-266-5153 ext. 5339

connie.jackson@eastorange-nj.gov

Erica Viviani, 973-309-3479 (cell)

erica.viviani@redcross.org