PATERSON, NJ - Six-year-old Paterson resident Miabella knows what to do if there’s a fire in her home she told TAPinto Paterson: tell my parents and get out of the house.

Thanks to a shared effort by the Red Cross and Paterson Fire Department Miabella, and everyone else that lives in the two family residence she calls home, has some additional fire safety help: seven new, working, smoke detectors.

On Saturday volunteers and firefighters spread out across the 4th Ward installing the lifesaving devices in homes that didn’t have adequate working units.

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A total of 147 smoke detectors were installed in 47 homes an event organizer said.

Saying that residents are 50 percent more likely to survive a house fire if they have working smoke detectors, but that one in ten households don’t purchase them, sometime because of cost, Sheri A. Ferreira, Regional Communications Program Manager for the Red Cross, suggested that the effort was being held to “make Paterson homes safer.”

Volunteers, Ferreira said, were also providing fire safety tips and helping residents create home fire escape plans.

“You have two minutes to get out of a house fire,” Ferreira warned.

Helping to kick off the Saturday canvass was Fire Chief Brian McDermott. Recongized widely for having stepped up community outreach efforts by the Paterson Fire Department since assuming the position in 2017, McDermott offered an assurance that "the men and women of the Paterson Fire Department are always well prepared and well equipped to respond to any emergency.”

However, he added, their preference is to “stop fires before they start."

“We also want Paterson families to know we’re here for them, not just when an alarm rings but always.”

Also joining one the volunteer teams was Councilwoman Ruby Cotton who suggested that residents shouldn’t hesitate to let fire inspectors in their homes. In her seven years on the city council, as well as many years previous as a community activist, Cotton said that the increase in fire education has made a huge difference for the neighborhood she represents.

Acknowledging that they sometimes go off at inopportune time, something one Red Cross official blamed on improper placement, Cotton offered bluntly “they are not annoying, they save lives.” 

With the volunteer’s work over, Miabella, already focused on downloading a fire safety app recommended to her, was grateful for the help from the team that came unannounced to “take care of us.”

Paterson residents in need of a smoke detector can call the Paterson Fire Department Fire Prevention Office at 973-321-1414.

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