Red Cross and Kentucky Power install free smoke alarms on Martin Luther King Day of Service

WHITESBURG, Ky., January 20, 2020 – Kentucky Power joined the American Red Cross Eastern Kentucky Chapter and three volunteer fire departments on Martin Luther King Day of Service to provide free smoke detectors to those in need.

The significance of the day was not lost on Jeff Baker, a line coordinator in Hazard.

“Martin Luther King wanted us to come together as a community and that’s what this was about,” Baker said. “We had the power company, Red Cross, firefighters, all volunteering together. Everybody was working together for one goal to help each other out. People were surprised when we told them we were with the power company. Some comments were we didn’t know you cared about us like that.”

The smoke alarm install is the second to be funded by a $40,000 grant from the American Electric Power Foundation awarded in 2019. Two more installations are planned for later this year in Pike and Floyd counties. The Red Cross partners with community volunteer fire departments to canvass low income areas and provide smoke detectors to those in need.

“There were 14 Kentucky Power employees who joined the efforts of the American Red Cross in Whitesburg, Kentucky, on Martin Luther King Day of Service to install 200 alarms and make 80 homes safer,” said Debbie Ranier, executive director of the Eastern Kentucky Chapter of the American Red Cross. “We are so grateful for your partnership and dedication. You can rest assured that you have helped move the mission and the Home Fire Campaign Program forward for the American Red Cross.”

One of the best ways to prepare for a home fire is to have working smoke detectors. They can reduce the risk of dying in a home fire by nearly 50 percent, according to the Red Cross.

“The Red Cross responds to more than 300 home fires in eastern Kentucky every year,” said Kentucky Power President Brett Mattison. “This partnership is a good fit for Kentucky Power because too many home fires in our region can be traced to electrical issues. One fire is one too many. And we know having working smoke detectors in the home can provide residents valuable time to escape. Homes will be made safer and lives will be saved.”

Shane Allen, a customer account manager associate in Hazard said he volunteered for the event because he saw it as a good opportunity to interact with customers and get out into the service territory. The overwhelming positive response from customers was unexpected.

“I feel like the folks we helped were very appreciative,” Allen said. “It made me feel good going into their homes and potentially saving a life. We are a caring, compassionate company, and we showed our customers that we care and we honored Dr. Martin Luther King by providing a service to our community.”

Sen. Johnny Ray Turner, D-Drift, whose 29th district includes Letcher County, noted the importance of the event.

“According to the U.S. Fire Administration, house fires claimed the lives of 60 Kentuckians just last year,” Sen. Turner said. “In honor of Martin Luther King Jr., I hope this day of service helps bring out many volunteers to serve our community and protect our neighbors in the case of a fire. A special thanks to Red Cross, Kentucky Power, and all the volunteers taking part in this event.”


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