Several Whitehall residents are safer today after volunteers from the city of Whitehall and the American Red Cross installed 204 new smoke detectors in 80 residences April 27.

More than 60 volunteers visited residences from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. during "Sound the Alarm," a national program of the American Red Cross launched last year.

American Red Cross volunteers, sometimes joined with representatives from fire departments or other organizations, are going door to door in at-risk areas to provide and install free smoke detectors, said Jennifer Bowers, communications and marketing director for the Ohio Buckeye region of the American Red Cross.

"It's a big help when fire departments come with us because people recognize firefighters and are more likely to respond to our effort," Bowers said.

The Sound the Alarm program runs through May 12 throughout the country, said Bowers, who added the smoke detectors cost about $15 each and are funded by corporate sponsors.

Volunteers place door hangers one to two days ahead of the visit to advise homeowners of the program, he said.

Whitehall Fire Inspector Garry Keiffer said he reached out to the American Red Cross to bring the program to Whitehall.

Volunteers visited residences on Collingwood, Maplewood and Westphal avenues and Bernhard and Ross roads, among others, Keiffer said.

"More than half of the residences we visited did not have any smoke detector at all or ones that did not have batteries or we not working," he said.

Although it hasn't been determined if smoke detectors were inside the Doney Street residence where a fire caused the death of Monica Rice, 37, on April 24 -- no alarms were heard when firefighters arrived -- it remains an example of why smoke detectors are critical for safety, said Whitehall Assistant Fire Chief Chris Menapace.

All the smoke detectors installed April 27 were in homes that had either an inoperable smoke detector or none at all, Keiffer said.

On the national level, the campaign has a goal of distributing 100,000 smoke detectors nationwide, including 800 in central Ohio, Bowers said.

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