When we talk about fire response in the American Red Cross it’s not about going and putting out the fires though many times it’s about putting out the fears. The services we provide are the emergency relief, monetary and emotional, for families who have just faced a devastating personal disaster. The Red Cross stands ready for the call 24/7/365. Many times responding on holidays, just like our partners in the fire service. Side by side we work to alleviate human suffering.
Home fires are a large problem in the United States and every year Red Cross volunteers across the country respond to more than 70,000 disasters, of which, 93 percent are fire-related. This is a an overwhelming number to think about since many home fires can be prevented.
I recently had the opportunity to spend a day with members of one of our partner agencies in southern Missouri. Assistant Chief, Russ Lafferty, from Logan Rogersville Fire Department has been fighting fires for the past 20 years and has seen countless families in their darkest hour. He has made the call, for Red Cross, many times in his career. “That’s one of the first steps, is the call to the Red Cross” said Lafferty. “When that family is standing behind you and you know they are suffering but that one phone call means we don’t have to worry about them having a place to go. We know the Red Cross is going to be there quickly to help them get through this while we fight to save what we can of their home.”
Some people who have a house fire do not need Red Cross assistance, but there are others who are not as fortunate to have family nearby to stay with. They may not be in a financial position to come up with money to replace the food and clothing that has been lost. Many times they are uninsured and like so many of us, in this time of economic struggle, they may live paycheck to paycheck.
Recently, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released the most recent “Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment” report, detailing national statistics from 2007 to 2011. These statistics show cooking as the leading cause of home fires. “It is responsible for two of every five reported home fires. It is also the leading cause of home fire injuries. The top three days for cooking fires are Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.” You can take a closer look at this report by visiting the NFPA Today page.
Home fires can happen at any time, but they generally increase during the fall and winter, with December and January being the peak month. Home fires are also more common on Saturday and Sunday and tend to be most common between 6:00 and 7:00 PM. You can find more information about fire facts as well as prevention tips by visiting www.redcross.org. You can also reach out to your local fire department.
We are thankful for the role that our partners play in connecting those in need to the resources that can help. We are proud to be there to ease not only the pain of those who are suffering, but to provide that peace of mind for those fire fighters who get there first and make that call.
Story and Photo by: Nigel Holderby, American Red Cross
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.