My name is Stephen Bogdan, and I’ve been volunteering with the American Red Cross since July of 2018. Since then I’ve learned the value of disaster preparedness and all the training that is involved in the Red Cross’ response to disasters. I’ve always been concerned about fire safety, since the time I learned about it in grade school and throughout my adulthood. And you should be too!

I know the single most important thing we can all do to prevent needless tragedies is to make sure our smoke alarms are working. I would encourage everyone to push the test button on your smoke alarms anytime you want and as often as you want! If you don’t hear the sound, check your batteries and if your alarms are more than ten years old, replace them.

Did you know that if a fire starts in your home you may have as little as two minutes to escape? Fire is not patient and it spreads very rapidly. It can destroy property and take lives in minutes. Everyone should learn about fire safety, and this spring the Red Cross invites you to help raise awareness about fire safety in your community by participating in a Sound the Alarm event (see more below).

There were 142 civilian home fire fatalities in New York State reported by U.S. news media between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018 according to the United States Fire Administration. A recent Red Cross survey found that 80% of families have a false sense of security about their family’s ability to escape a home fire. Most have not practiced an escape plan and are surprised to learn they have just two minutes or less to escape their burning home before it’s too late. Installing smoke alarms, testing them monthly and practicing an escape plan with family members at least twice a year can greatly increase chances of survival.

The Red Cross encourages EVERYONE to have working smoke alarms. At a minimum, put one on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Check local building codes for additional requirements. If you already have smoke alarms, be sure to test them regularly to make sure they are working. Many people may not realize that smoke alarms do expire. If your alarms are more than 10 years old, they should be replaced.

You can learn more and request FREE smoke alarms from the Red Cross by visiting

Two-year-old Amira Smith may not be able to read that Home Fire Safety Checklist she’s holding, but American Red Cross volunteers Shanley Arizona and Harry McSweeney will make sure her mother, Deasia Copeland, knows exactly what to do in case of a fire. They just installed new smoke alarms in the home, at no charge to the family. The free smoke alarms and fire safety education are part of Sound the Alarm, an effort to prevent fatalities from home fires. Photo by Marko Kokic for the American Red Cross.

One day of your life can change someone else’s forever. Join us in Glens Falls on May 4, 2019!

The Red Cross launched a nationwide Home Fire Campaign in 2014 to reduce fire deaths and injuries and save lives. So far, the campaign has reached more than 1.7 million people and saved more than 500 lives nationwide. In the Eastern NY Region, Red Cross volunteers and local partners have:

  • Installed more than 17,000 free smoke alarms
  • Made nearly 7,000 homes safer
  • Saved at least 19 local lives

Sound the Alarm home fire safety and smoke alarm installation events are a critical part of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign. During Sound the Alarm events, Red Cross volunteers and members of local fire departments and other groups go door-to-door, canvassing high risk neighborhoods to install free smoke alarms and help families create home fire escape plans. All services are free and available to anyone in need.

For the second year in a row, the Red Cross is teaming up with volunteers and partners across the U.S. for a series of national signature Sound the Alarm events. From April 27 through May 12, teams will install 100,000 free smoke alarms in more than 100 cities and towns nationwide. Locally, the Red Cross is joining forces with the City of Glens Falls for a one-day, community-wide event focused on making homes safer and preventing home fire tragedies.

Gary Striar, Regional CEO for the American Red Cross, joined Glens Falls Mayor Daniel Hall, Fire Chief James Schrammel, Assemblyman Dan Stec, and local volunteers and firefighters to announce plans to Sound the Alarm in the City of Glens Falls on Saturday, May 4, 2019.

Recently, Red Cross and local leaders gathered to announce their plans to install 1,000 free smoke alarms in Glens Falls on Saturday, May 4 as part of the nationwide Sound the Alarm initiative. In order to achieve their goals, the Red Cross estimates that they will need approximately 300 volunteers to participate in their signature Sound the Alarm event. Volunteer registration is open now at All volunteers will be trained and assigned to teams that will work together to install alarms and provide lifesaving education to local residents.

Local sponsors supporting the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign and the Sound the Alarm event in the City of Glens Falls include Glens Falls National Bank, Hannay Reels, MVP Health Care, National Grid, NYCM Insurance, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Spectrum, State Farm, and Stewart’s Shops.

As a volunteer, I have really enjoyed working on sharing this information, and it has reinforced for me the value of having working smoke alarms and learning more about fire safety. I hope you will consider participating in the upcoming Sound the Alarm event either by volunteering your time or making a donation to support the effort.