EAST ORANGE, NJ – As part of the American Red Cross Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, the Red Cross and the City of East Orange have teamed up to help reduce the number of home fire related deaths and injuries in East Orange. 

Since July 1, 2012, the Red Cross North Jersey Region has provided comfort and emergency assistance to 116 families displaced by home fires in East Orange.

“In the wake of the recent fatal fires, it is imperative that we, as a community, implement a strategic, comprehensive and proactive plan for fire prevention,” said Mayor Lester E. Taylor III. “This campaign allows us to target our oldest and most vulnerable neighborhoods and provide families with the information and tools needed to help prevent fires.”

Sign Up for E-News

Saturday, January 10 will mark the first in a series of home fire preparedness canvassing events in East Orange. Volunteers from the Red Cross, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the East Orange Fire Department (EOPD) will be going door-to-door in the 4th and 5th Wards and offering free smoke alarm installation in homes that need them. 

Council Chairwoman Alicia Holman, who represents the 5th Ward, applauded the grassroots approach of this joint volunteer initiative.   

“Ultimately, we need to do whatever we can to keep our community safe,” said Holman, who formerly chaired the Council’s Public Safety Committee.  “Public safety is always a top priority. We will start in the 4th and 5th wards, but we will eventually reach all homes in need.” 

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Sharon Fields, who witnessed the devastating aftermath of the Dec. 5th fire on No. 17th Street, encourages residents to participate in the campaign. 

“I want residents to take full advantage of this opportunity and open their doors to our volunteers,” said Fields.  “Smoke alarms save lives and no residence in East Orange should be without one.” 

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.  

“East Orange is one of the high fire-risk zip codes in our region,” said Steven Sarinelli, regional disaster officer, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “Smoke alarms can cut the risk of death from a fire in half, so we’re joining the City of East Orange, the fire department and community groups to install smoke alarms and teach fire safety.”

In October, the Red Cross announced a campaign in New Jersey and across the country to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years. The Red Cross is urging everyone to take two simple steps that can save lives: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.

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.


American Red Cross North Jersey Region 

Diane Concannon, 609-206-4043 (cell)


City of East Orange

Connie Jackson, 973-266-5153, ext. 5339


Erica Viviani, 973-309-3479 (cell)