The American Red Cross teamed up with the Bastrop Fire Department and volunteers on Friday, Feb. 16 to install free smoke detectors.

Fire prevention officer Timothy Williams said they chose to begin distributing the fire alarms in the neighborhoods surrounding the Central Fire Station because they had a recent fatality there.

"We want to put out as many as we can today," Williams said. "The alarms will help save lives."

The effort is part of the American Red Cross’ Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, which aims to reduce home fire deaths in the United States by 25 percent by 2020.

Local volunteers were given Red Cross vests to wear as they canvased the community, going door to door with the Red Cross volunteers and firefighters to install as many smoke alarms as they could. The fire department installed the alarms in the homes and offered tips to homeowners on how to create a fire escape plan and the most common fire hazards.

 he smoke alarms were provided by the Red Cross, and 87 were installed in homes.

Williams said the fire department is planning on conducting more fire alarm installations in the future, in other neighborhoods in Bastrop.

Red Cross Disaster Program Specialist Lana Haire said the Red Cross helps fire victims by providing immediate assistance after a fire disaster.

"We provide help for them and get them food and shelter," she said. "Our assistance is for immediate needs."

Haire said that since the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign began in 2014, 332 lives have been saved across the United States.

"We partner with fire departments and help them canvass areas where recent fire fatalities have occurred," she said. "Since mid-December there have been 28 fire related deaths in Louisiana. In 2018, about 17 people have died since January."

Haire said having a fire escape plan is important too.

"The more prepared you are for a fire the easier it is to follow through," she said. "Families need to practice fire drills and have a safe meeting place if a fire were to occur."

The American Red Cross and Bastrop Fire Department will provide smoke alarms at no charge. Call to make an appointment for free installation.