Red Cross Saves Hundreds of Lives through Home Fire Campaign

Red Cross Saves Hundreds of Lives through Home Fire Campaign

A team of volunteers shares how many families they helped through the Red Cross.

July 12, 2018

Written by Katie Kuhn, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Do you know what you would do if there was a fire in your home?

“When people think about disaster relief, the mind automatically goes to hurricanes and tornadoes,” said Viv Chappell of American Red Cross of Wisconsin. “In fact, the type of disaster Red Cross teams respond to most often is home fires…often a couple of times per day in Wisconsin.”

Most Americans think they would know what to do in the event of a home fire, but common mistakes – like not having a predetermined meeting place – can lead to injury or even death.

“Our goal is to provide both relief for victims and get out in front of the problem,” said Viv.

American Red Cross Wisconsin Region has begun a robust fire safety campaign which aims to ensure households have working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan.

On April 28, more than 250 community volunteers gathered at Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee for the Red Cross “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life” smoke alarm installation and fire safety education event. Over the course of the day, 757 smoke alarms were installed and 353 homes were provided with fire safety information.

“We are proud to serve all of Milwaukee, regardless of where people live, both in terms of disaster response and preparedness services,” said Viv.

 “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life” was a 16-day campaign held this spring across the county, meant as a nationwide push toward home fire safety and awareness. It is part of the wider Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, which has documented 431 lives saved in the U.S. since 2014.

Additionally, Red Cross offers smoke alarm installation by appointment year-round. Anyone is able to request free smoke alarms and installation.

“I met with a family in Janesville, Wisconsin, who got alarms through the home fire campaign,” remembered Viv. “A month later, they had a fire in their home. The smoke alarm woke up mom, who was then able to alert her husband and 5-year-old son and get out of the house quickly and safely.”

“It’s so emotional to talk to families who have had an experience like this one,” said Viv. “But the impact we are making through these efforts really hits home.”

Volunteers play a big role in the Home Fire Campaign. For events like “Sound the Alarm, Save a Life,” teams of three to four receive a brief training and are assigned roles – one to install the smoke alarm, one to share fire safety information with the family, and one to keep a record of families served. Volunteers are also needed on an ongoing basis for by-appointment installations.

Viv and American Red Cross of Wisconsin are grateful to all of their volunteers, especially those groups from Milwaukee Fire Department, Near West Side Partners, UW – Milwaukee, Marquette Law, and Hope Worldwide that helped out on April 28, and the many donors that help make the campaign possible.

Viv has some simple advice for families around home fire safety: ensure you have working smoke alarms, make a plan and practice, practice, practice. For help getting started, visit the Home Fire Safety page at

For more information on the Home Fire Campaign in Wisconsin, including how you can request smoke alarms and get involved, click here.

Feeling inspired? Find a volunteer opportunity that let’s you make an impact by visiting our volunteer portal.



Ann Stokman
October 21 2018 at  6:46:22 AM

Love what the Red Cross is doing in our local Milwaukee Community and beyond.

Have something to say? LEAVE A COMMENT:

The following required items were not provided or are in the wrong format. Please provide the required responses and submit again:

Your email address will not be published. All fields Required.

  Please enter your name
  Please enter a valid email
  Please enter a comment

United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukehsa County blog and social media presence is designed as a source for information, sharing and collaboration about United Way and health and human service related topics. As part of our commitment to our readers, we expect all posters to abide by the following rules:
 • Posts and comments should be on topic, conversational, and serve to educate or entertain  
 • Posts and comments may not be unlawful, fraudulent, threatening, libelous, defamatory, discriminatory, harassing, obscene or otherwise rude or in poor taste
 • Posts and comments may not be used for any commercial purpose or otherwise to promote any outside organization or its activities

United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County reserves the right, at our discretion, to remove any post or to revoke a user’s privilege to post to our page. Comments found to be in conflict with the guidelines above will be removed promptly.
Comments are not necessarily those of United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County and its employees and we do not guarantee the accuracy of these posts.

© 2019 United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County is a 501(C)(3) Nonprofit registered in the US under EIN: 39-0806190.