---- — OTTUMWA — Volunteers from the Southern Prairie Chapter of the American Red Cross, the United Way of Wapello County, Ottumwa Fire Department and Wapello County Rural Fire went door to door Wednesday in Ottumwa installing smoke alarms and talking with people about how to prevent home fires and how to escape safely should a fire occur.
Red Cross and Day of Caring volunteers installed 221 smoke alarms and provided disaster preparedness information to more than 500 homes. Firefighters replaced one smoke alarm which had a battery in it from 1979. The day-long project targeted seven mobile home communities the Ottumwa Fire Department determined were at high risk for fires.
Nationally, on average, the Red Cross provides food, shelter, comfort and hope to people affected by approximately 63,000 fires every year, or about one fire every eight minutes. Southern Prairie Chapter disaster workers responded to 44 home fires last year.
The smoke alarm installation project was made possible in part by a $10,000 grant from the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation.
The Ottumwa Fire Department has additional free smoke alarms available to residents in need. To have a smoke alarm installed in your home, contact the Ottumwa Fire Department.