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Red Cross volunteers install free smoke alarms in Greater Bangor

The American Red Cross 'Sound the Alarm' initiative has a goal of installing 50,000 smoke alarms in more than 50 at-risk communities in the U.S.

PENOBSCOT COUNTY, Maine — Editor's note: The video attached to this story was published April 25, 2022. 

The American Red Cross is bringing back its springtime initiative, "Sound the Alarm." 

Volunteer crews spent Saturday morning installing smoke alarms in more than 50 homes in Bangor, Hampden, Glenburn, Hermon, Brewer, Orono, and Veazie.

This program is part of a national initiative to install 50,000 smoke alarms in more than 50 at-risk communities across the country in May.

Among the volunteers helping out with installations was Kim Meyerdierks, who has seen the danger of a house fire firsthand. 

"I was woken up in the middle of the night by a startling knock on my door, and basically someone I heard running down the stairway yelling fire,'" Meyerdierks said.

The multifamily home Meyerdierks was living in caught on fire nearly one year ago on Charles Street in Bangor. Fortunately all residents and pets made it out safely. She credited the American Red Cross for helping to get her through a difficult time. 

"I remember saying to the volunteer worker, 'Yes, I'm going to be volunteering for the Red Cross,' and I'm finally able to do so," Meyerdierks said.

Meyerdierks joined a team Saturday helping to install the smoke-sensing devices.

The Red Cross also partnered with local fire departments for this event. Peter Metcalf is chief of the Veazie Fire Department and president of the Penobscot County Fire Chief Association. 

"With modern construction, fires burn so much quicker and so much faster than they did 30, 40 years ago," Metcalf said.

Metcalf said his department often sees fires destroy homes without working smoke alarms. 

"Typically we like to see smoke alarms on each floor of the home and in each bedroom," Metcalf said.

Bangor resident Pauline Hopkins, 91, was one of the recipients of new smoke alarms in her home. She said she had one smoke alarm in her home, and it wasn't working. The volunteer crew replaced that smoke alarm and installed two more throughout her home.

"I live alone, so it's a good thing to know that I have something to rely on," Hopkins said.

Metcalf said every household should have an escape plan ready if a fire were to happen in their home. He said parents should discuss it with their family, especially children, what to do if they hear a beep.

"Should the real thing happen at 3 a.m., it's an automatic reaction of knowing to get up and get out to that meeting place," Metcalf said.

Crews installed 187 alarms in 58 households serving 120 residents in Greater Bangor on Saturday, according to a spokesperson for the American Red Cross.

If you would like to have free smoke alarms installed in your home, you can call 1-800-464-6692, or click here to sign up. 

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