Approximately 30 volunteers with the American Red Cross, Dickinson Fire Department and other community organizations installed 95 free smoke alarms throughout 33 Dickinson homes this Saturday as part of the Red Cross' Sound the Alarm initiative.
"We break into 3 person teams and we go door to door to install these smoke detectors. When we go in, we do a lot of education. ... We install these smoke detectors for free - one on each floor and inside or right outside of each sleeping area," said Josh Christianson, American Red Cross recruitment specialist.
Sound the Alarm was created in 2014, but this is the first year it has taken place in Dickinson.
"This is something that we hope to continue," said Mark Selle, fire marshal.
He stressed the importance of having smoke detectors in the home and said that some of the local house that caught fire did not have working smoke alarms.
"The fires grow faster now than they used to," Selle said. "After about two minutes, you start to get some gases that can affect you ... after five minutes you're going to have a room that is totally engulfed and you can't survive. ... Without that smoke alarm, you don't know it's there, you don't smell it, you don't hear it in your sleep ... That's the only thing there to notify you."
Dickinson Fire Department's Alex Roller and Red Cross volunteers Mason Stotz and Tommy Colby installed three smoke alarms in Kim Heiser's home. Two of the ones installed replaced smoke detectors that were about 14 years old. The third was added to her bedroom, where there was no fire alarm.
Heiser was surprised when they knocked on her door.
"I think it's a great program," she said. "It's very safe-conscious, and I think that's wonderful."
The Red Cross recommends replacing smoke detectors after 10 years, regardless of whether or not they appear to be working and testing them monthly.
"Our national goal is we want a 25 percent reduction in home fire deaths and injuries," said Rob Stotz, executive director of American Red Cross Dakotas Region. "Since 2014, we have documented 486 people whose lives that we've saved by just doing this campaign."
People still in need of smoke alarms can go to getasmokealarm.org and submit a request. A representative from the Red Cross will reach out to schedule a free installation.