How Wonderful it is to End Home Fires!

By Mason Anthony, Communications Intern

On Saturday April 15, the American Red Cross Central California Region hosted the Sound the Alarm event at the Wonderful College Prep Academy in the town of Delano, Ca to install smoke detectors for families in need.

Totaling around 90 Volunteers from organizations including the American Red Cross, The Wonderful Company, Kern County Fire, Kern County CERT, the Delano Chamber of Commerce, Bank of the Sierra and Full Steam Staffing came together to install 348 smoke alarms for 120 homes and serving 428 residents of Delano.

Beginning in October 2014, the Red Cross created an initiative to install 50,000 smoke alarms to help save the lives of people from the East of the Appalachias to the West of the Rocky’s and everyone in between. Since the campaign began, the Red Cross has help to save 1,275 lives.

Rachel Amaya telling her story while standing in the living room of her mothers home as volunteers install smoke alarms.

In Delano, one home owner has had the unfortunate circumstance of witnessing and experiencing how horrific a home fire can be. Rachel Amaya is a Delano resident whose mother was one of the 120 homes that had smoke alarms installed. She details her experiences when it comes to home fires.

“I thought this one was burning, no it was the neighbor’s house. ‘Your house is gonna get burned,’ but nobody’s at home, so you know as long we’re safe, I don’t care about the house, you know. It’s my life, not the house…” said Amaya. “The house I can replace it, but not my life.” 

Amaya lives on the same property with her mother, but stays in a house that is behind her mothers house, only to be separated by a small fence.

“…I live back there and the only thing that divides us is the fence. If she doesn’t answer me the phone, right away I come down” said Amaya.

For those who receive the smoke alarms from the volunteers, it can be a very heartwarming experience and for volunteers it can as equally heartwarming to give a simple necessity to a person who is without one. Volunteers such as Gabriela Ortiz, from the Bank of Sierra, and Sunshine Hernandez, from the Delano Chamber of Commerce, shared their experiences on what it was like for them to be apart of the Sound the Alarm event in Delano.

Gabriela Campos Ortiz (left) and Sunshine Hernandez (Right) along with their team member from the Sound the Alarm event in Delano.

“I like to help the community. It was impressive to me though none of them really had any smoke alarms. So when we told them there were free… they were really welcoming. Yeah, I really like helping the community” said Gabriela Ortiz in an interview. “It was shocking that none of the landlords like really put smoke alarms in. They were pretty welcoming and some of them offered water. They were really nice.”

“My favorite part was actually being able to educate them on making an evacuation plan and earthquake safety understand the importance of having their smoke alarms” said Sunshine Hernandez. “It’s a really great program so I am really be really happy to be apart of it.”

Home fires are a tragedy that is all to common in today’s society. When we all come together as a community we can move the needle in ending home fires.

With the Sound the Alarm event, it allows us to guarantee that families have both a working smoke alarm and a 2-minute escape plan, we can change and save the lives of our dear neighbors.

These are the types of stories we hear at our Sound the Alarm events. Delano’s event was the second of five across Central California, and we invite you to join us at an upcoming event near you.

To learn more about how you can protect your family and get involved, visit

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