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Westmoreland

Red Cross helps Greensburg homeowners with free smoke detectors

Stephen Huba
| Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, 4:24 p.m.
American Red Cross volunteers Gary Wenning and Bobbi Miller install a smoke detector in the basement of a Southwest Greensburg home on Friday.
Stephen Huba | Tribune-Review
American Red Cross volunteers Gary Wenning and Bobbi Miller install a smoke detector in the basement of a Southwest Greensburg home on Friday.
American Red Cross volunteer Gary Wenning gives a quick course in smoke detector installation on Friday.
Stephen Huba | Tribune-Review
American Red Cross volunteer Gary Wenning gives a quick course in smoke detector installation on Friday.
American Red Cross volunteers Barbara Janoscrat (middle) and Deb Marchelletta tell Greensburg resident Markus McGowan about a program Friday to install smoke detectors in homes.
Stephen Huba | Tribune-Review
American Red Cross volunteers Barbara Janoscrat (middle) and Deb Marchelletta tell Greensburg resident Markus McGowan about a program Friday to install smoke detectors in homes.
American Red Cross volunteers Gary Wenning and Bobbi Miller test a newly-installed smoke detector on Friday.
Stephen Huba | Tribune-Review
American Red Cross volunteers Gary Wenning and Bobbi Miller test a newly-installed smoke detector on Friday.

Where there’s smoke, there’s usually an American Red Cross volunteer not far behind.

On Friday, volunteers hoped to avoid future fires by offering to install free smoke detectors to homeowners in and around Greensburg.

The initiative, which had 12 teams of three volunteers fanned out over several neighborhoods, was part of the national Sound the Alarm campaign and the 16 th annual United Way Day of Caring.

A team comprising Barbara Janoscrat, Deb Marchelletta, Bobbi Miller and Gary Wenning spent most of the morning in Southwest Greensburg and in the city of Greensburg along Oakland Avenue, Grove Street, Alexander Avenue and Stanton Street.

Volunteers had previously canvassed the neighborhood by leaving door hangers explaining the free program.

“The biggest problem we have is people think we’re soliciting, and so they won’t open the door,” said Janoscrat, the designated educator of the group.

Miller and Wenning served as installers, and Marchelletta was in charge of documenting information about each visited home.

The program is not a smoke detector giveaway, but rather a way for homes without working detectors to have new ones installed on the spot. The detectors, powered by a lithium battery, are guaranteed for 10 years.

“We’ve gone to fires where people have smoke detectors in the home, but they’ve not replaced the battery,” Janoscrat said. “Or they say it’s beeping and they get tired of the beep, so they remove the battery. That’s what we’re dealing with.”

Greensburg resident Markus McGowan told the team that he already had three smoke detectors but added, “They’re old ones, for real.”

He said he recently replaced the battery in the upstairs detector. He seemed open to having his detectors replaced but stopped short of letting the team in his house because he was busy doing yard work.

Not all visits on Friday were cold calls.

The team had an appointment with Southwest Greensburg resident Dolores Basile, who said she recently removed two of her smoke detectors because she kept hearing a beeping noise in her house. She ended up calling 911, but the source of the sound turned out to be an old carbon monoxide detector.

“It makes the same noise as a smoke alarm when it goes bad,” Basile said.

The Red Cross team installed three detectors in her home – in the basement, front entryway and on the second floor.

While the work was being done, Marchelletta and Janoscrat gave Basile a quick course in home fire safety:

  • The average resident has only 2 minutes to escape a fire.
  • Each home should have a fire escape plan and should practice the plan, including having a safe meeting place.
  • Don’t walk away from the stove while preparing food.
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from curtains and other flammable objects.
  • Clean lint from dryers and dryer vent hoses regularly.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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