Canton Area Couple Creates Safer Neighborhoods

 Install Hundreds of Smoke Alarms in Fewer Than Three Months

Dick and Earlene Kincaid have been American Red Cross volunteers for nearly eight years. They have responded to hurricanes, tornadoes and floods in Texas, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Alabama as members of the Red Cross National Disaster Action Team, providing hot meals and comfort to thousands of people made suddenly homeless by extreme weather.

But the work they’ve done this fall in their own backyard has made the biggest impact in the lives of their neighbors.

The Kincaids have single-handedly installed more than 750 smoke alarms in homes in the Stark County and Muskingum Lakes Chapter since October.  This October.  In just over two months time, Dick and Earlene are responsible for achieving more than half the total annual goal of the entire Chapter.

Dick wields the drill and installs the alarms while Earlene provides valuable fire safety information to residents. She said, “Most of these people don’t have working smoke alarms, or they don’t have any at all.”   The Kincaids work mostly on weekends, when people are more likely to be home. They spend about 15 minutes in each home, installing alarms on each floor.  And they average about 100 installations a week.

Photo credit: Jim McIntyre/American Red Cross

Not bad for a couple who survived a motorcycle crash in 2007.

“I flew like a bird, but my landing sucked,” Dick says with a grin.  Earlene says she rolled better, suffering only a broken shoulder and some scrapes. Dick says he spent 18 days at the Cleveland Clinic, undergoing 5 surgeries to save his leg, and spent another 9 months in a hospital bed in the living room of their Tuscarawas County home.

Dick retired from Timken as a steelworker that same year. Once he got back on his feet, Dick and Earlene Kincaid began their careers as Red Cross volunteers, responding to national disasters and local home fires. But their Operation Save-A-Life efforts are taking up most of their volunteer time now.

“We’ve had people who have had three little kids in a trailer home, and no smoke alarms.  They burn so fast,” Dick says.  ” If we can save any lives at all, that’s good enough.”

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