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Davis Journal

‘Sound the Alarm’ program offers free smoke detector installation

May 09, 2024 12:52PM ● By Becky Ginos
Volunteers with the American Red Cross install a smoke detector and help the homeowners make an escape plan in the event of a fire. Photo courtesy of the American Red Cross

Volunteers with the American Red Cross install a smoke detector and help the homeowners make an escape plan in the event of a fire. Photo courtesy of the American Red Cross

DAVIS COUNTY—The American Red Cross is “sounding the alarm” to encourage homeowners to check their smoke detectors and create an escape plan to ensure all family members get out safe in the event of a fire. As part of the Sound the Alarm initiative, Red Cross volunteers will come out and install free smoke detectors and help families make an escape plan.

“A home fire is the largest disaster we respond to,” said Michael Smauldon, Executive Director Northern Utah/Southwest Wyoming. “It’s sad. For the person who has the fire that’s their disaster happening. Often we notice that they don’t have working smoke alarms.”

The Red Cross offers comfort care and any mental health help needed, he said. “When we ask if their smoke detector was working, a lot say they weren’t. Sadly when we respond some fires have resulted in fatalities. They didn’t have to pass away if they’d had a working smoke detector.” 

It’s not just a working smoke detector that’s important, said Smauldon. “They also need a plan to get out of the home in two minutes or less. Homes are built with more flammable materials. They used to use brick but now it’s wood. They tend to go up in flames more than older ones. Fire tends to spread faster.”

Teams of six volunteers go out once a week and set up a time to install the detectors and help the homeowners make an escape plan, he said. “The volunteers have dedicated their time every week to go out and do that. They do this all year round. Everyone is eligible.”

Last year the Red Cross held a Sound the Alarm event in Layton, Smauldon said. “We worked with Layton City, the mayor and emergency management partner. We’re looking for another community” to hold an event.

Volunteers go into the home and if they already have one and it’s older than 10 years they replace it or replace the batteries, he said. “If they have a working detector they sit down to make an escape plan to get out of every room and a place to meet.”

People get separated and they all get out but they’re on different sides of the home, said Smauldon. “They rush back in to save them. Sadly they lose their life even though all of them got out. We just want to avoid tragic events like that.”

Smauldon said if an alarm is older than 10 years they suggest replacing it. “New smoke detectors are either hard-wired and they don’t have batteries or others have lithium batteries. They last for 10 years and you don’t have to change them. You should test them twice a year.”

Sometimes the detectors with regular batteries start to chirp when they’re low, he said. “People take out the battery to stop it and then they no longer  have a working detector in the home.”

With the lithium batteries homeowners know that their smoke detector is going to last for 10 years, said Smauldon. “There’s a silence button so if it goes off while you’re cooking you can silence it then they tend not to take the batteries out of the unit.”

There’s no reason for someone not to have a working smoke alarm in their home, he said. “If you need a smoke alarm, reach out and if you need help making a plan our volunteers are happy to come out and do that with you.” 

To register to have someone come out and install smoke detectors go to or call 801-627-0000.