Red Cross installs free smoke detectors


Red Cross volunteers visited homes across Long Island to install free smoke detectors on March 26 as part of the organization’s nationwide Home Fire Campaign. People who signed up at the Glen Cove Senior Center on March 2 also received the smoke detectors.

The Red Cross campaign began in 2014, as a way to enhance fire safety practices across the nation. Volunteers to install as many detectors as are required by the law in each home, at no charge. The devices are made to last 10 years.

Karen Serani, a Red Cross volunteer and a Landing School health and phys. ed. teacher, helped with the sign-up at the Glen Cove Senior Center. Twenty-five people requested visit from the Red Cross to install smoke detectors. Serani and her group visited seven homes and installed 27 detectors on Sunday.

In addition to handling the installation, the volunteers also share information on fire safety with residents. They demonstrate how to use a fire extinguisher, suggest a fire escape plan and explain how to test the new detectors. They also check the batteries of any other smoke detectors they find, and replace them if needed.

The devices can provide homeowners with quite a savings. The devices cost approximately $50 apiece, and many homes require more than one.

County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton got involved in the campaign after an elderly woman died in a house fire in Glen Cove earlier this year. “It’s something that’s very much on my mind,” she said. “It’s great because [the detectors] will not only be given to them, but they have assistance putting them in. And there’s no charge to any of the seniors, or anyone else that needs them.”

Volunteer visit many homes occupied by seniors that do not have any smoke detectors, which is actually illegal. The Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code of New York State require smoke alarms, detectors and carbon monoxide alarms in all new and existing residential occupancies.

“Sadly, too many senior citizens have no one to help them install or maintain these fire protection and life safety devices,” said Michael Uttaro, Nassau County’s assistant chief fire marshal.

Both New York State and the City of Glen Cove require smoke detectors in every bedroom, hallway outside a bedroom, and basement. They are also required on every floor where there is no bedroom.

Lori Pizzarelli and Joe Spaccarelli, the brother-and-sister team who oversee the campaign in New York City and Long Island, said they are just shy of their goal of installing 1,500 smoke detectors by June. And they believe the campaign is working.

According to Red Cross statistics, seven people die and 36 are injured every day in home fires in the U.S. Additionally, over $7 billion in property damage occurs annually. The Red Cross’s goal for the campaign is to reduce death and injury from home fires by 25 percent by 2020.

If you are interested in having a smoke detector installed in your home, contact the Long Island Red Cross at (516) 229-1086, or go to