Sound the Alarm smoke detector program kicks off

PARKERSBURG — Many numbers were thrown around at a press conference Monday for the Sound the Alarm program spearheaded by the American Red Cross Northwest West Virginia Region.

The most significant was six local people were saved from death in a fire as a result of the smoke detectors installed through the program by volunteers, according to Executive Director Sharon Kesselring.

Local representatives of the fire departments, governments in Wood and Wirt counties and the Red Cross held a program kickoff Monday at the Parkersburg Fire Department where Mayor Tom Joyce read a proclamation recognizing March as Red Cross Month.

Volunteers are “what makes the Mid-Ohio Valley special,” Joyce said.

Parkersburg is one of 128 signature Red Cross cities in the United States, Kesselring said.

“We’re thrilled by the level of support we’re getting from Parkersburg,” Erica Mani, chief executive officer of the West Virginia Region of the American Red Cross.

Home fires are the most common disaster to which the Red Cross responds, she said.

Chuck Clegg, a Red Cross volunteer who installs smoke alarms, knows first-hand how the devices save lives. He installed a smoke detector in his daughter’s home where the family was alerted of a furnace fire and had plenty of time to get out the house.

“I’m living proof smoke alarms save lives,” he said.

Smoke detectors can provide enough time to get out of the home, Parkersburg Fire Chief Jason Matthews said. A detector should be installed in every bedroom and on every floor, he said.

He recommends residents call the department for information and the installation of a free detector.

Participating fire departments in Wood and Wirt counties are the cities of Parkersburg, Williamstown, Elizabeth and Vienna, Washington Bottom, Lubeck, Blennerhassett, Mineral Wells, East Wood, Pond Creek, Waverly and Deerwalk.

The major financiers of the program are the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley, the McDonough Foundation, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, Erie Insurance and Wood County Rotary, Kesselring said.

“We know the great work they do here,” said Stacy Decicco, executive director of the United Way, which contributed $25,000 to the program.

“The work the Red Cross does is so critical,” she said.

A major drive to install smoke detectors will be held on May 4, Kesselring said. Each participating department will attempt to install 100 alarms or 1,200 total, she said.

Erie and Camden Clark also will supply volunteers to install alarms, Kesselring said.

To receive an alarm, another important number is 304 485-7316, Kesselring said.

“Just call the number,” she said.