SIOUX FALLS, SD -
In the last 18 months, nine people died in fires without working smoke alarms in Sioux Falls, according to fire investigators.
Next month, volunteers and Sioux Falls Fire Rescue will knock on Donna Breze's door to make sure her smoke alarm is activated and working properly.
"Especially if you have children at home, it's dangerous to turn them off," Donna Breze said.
Recent studies find most people disable smoke alarms because of faulty alerts or because they don't think a fire will start in their house.
The grandmother supports the volunteer effort to prevent fire-related deaths.
"I think it's a good idea," Breze said. "I've heard the fire alarm go off at that apartment building quite often. It's a good idea."
For years, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue offered free smoke detectors, but now officials say it's not enough.
"We will slowly but surely change our tactics and move towards having face-to-face discussions with homeowners and talking with them about how to maintain them and what to do if they are having problems with it," Sioux Falls Fire Marshal Dean Lanier said.
The Red Cross did a similar project in Council Bluffs, IA, but canvassing the Whittier Neighborhood will be the largest ever in South Dakota.
"This is a very large scale project with 1,500 homes in a one-day format," American Red Cross Executive Director Tony Burke said. "But we are very confident that with all the community partnerships that we have and the structure that we're designing with the city's help, that we will be very successful in hitting every home in less than eight hours."
The door-to-door event is scheduled for Saturday November 23. More than 125 people will be needed to help. If you’d like to volunteer call 605-336-2448.
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