It’s important to know that you may have just two minutes to escape a home fire — which is the nation’s most frequent disaster. That’s why the American Red Cross is preparing families to act quickly through our Home Fire Campaign.
“We are the leads for the Home Fire Campaign here in Ventura County,” said Drew Haver. The “we” that he is referring to is himself and his co-lead and wife, Amanda.
“It’s pretty well known that the Havers stick together,” said Amanda. “We’re actually a married couple that get along well.” “We’ve been married almost 26 years,” added Drew. “We’re still going strong and still like each other’s company.”
Besides a strong relationship, the Havers have built a strong team to carry-out the Home Fire Campaign mission. “We’ve been trying to build the teams up again after Covid,” Drew explained. “We now have teams in most every community in the county.”
The Red Cross distributes smoke alarms in two ways. People can make a call or fill out an online form to request free smoke alarms by appointment. According to Drew, “with this on-demand system, we’re doing four or five installs on the weekend. We have other teams that work during the week.”
There is also at least one signature event each year called Sound the Alarm, targeting an at-risk community. The planning team spends a couple of months getting ready before the event: recruiting volunteers, mapping out neighborhoods and gathering equipment and supplies.
This year’s Sound the Alarm was a huge success. Red Cross Pacific Coast volunteers and our community partners, including the Oxnard Fire Department, Oxnard College Fire Academy/Fire Technology, Oxnard CERT, 805 UndocuFund and Consulado de México en Oxnard joined forces on May 21, 2022, and installed more than 300 smoke alarms to help keep our communities and homes safe.
The Havers have been leading the Home Fire Campaign for four years now, but their Red Cross involvement started with the Thomas Fire in late 2017 and then the Woolsey Fire in 2018. The couple needed to evacuate their home as the Woolsey Fire raged toward their neighborhood early on. Grateful their home was spared, they joined the more than 900 Red Cross disaster workers helping with the relief efforts. Together with a team of volunteers from Disaster Mental Health Services and Health Services, they drove through affected neighborhoods offering emotional support, health services and relief items.
“We were teaching and the school district closed down. Our community was on fire and people needed us. We felt helping our community with the relief efforts would be the best use of our free time,” said Amanda. “Now we are hooked on this, we absolutely love what we do.”
As for their current involvement with the Home Fire Campaign, she continued, “We love seeing the volunteers get involved. We might save a life of someone in the future. We got into Sound the Alarm to honor Drew’s dad who was a firefighter. It’s just the right thing for us.”
The City of Oxnard recently received a grant to install 5,000 smoke alarms, so it looks like the Havers and their teams have a lot of important work ahead of them. “Instead of going on dates, this is what we do,” Amanda said with a laugh. Drew added, “We make a day of it. Maybe a dinner after an install.”
And this dedicated duo isn’t finished just yet. When asked about future plans with the Red Cross, Amanda said, “We still have a few more years to work but we plan to deploy when we retire. We met people from all over the country (during the Woolsey Fire), it was awesome. We can’t wait.”
By Dave Wagner, Public Affairs Volunteer
If you, just like the Havers, want to add a little spice to your life, please consider becoming a Red Cross volunteer. Click here for details on becoming a Red Cross volunteer.
The Red Cross goal is to prevent fire-related deaths and injuries in the U.S. by installing 2.5 million free smoke alarms and helping to make 1 million households safer in at-risk communities. For information on how to keep you and your family safe from home fires, click here.