Another life saved in Northern Ohio, after a smoke alarm alerts Akron man

Shawn Spaulding had just returned to his home in Akron on Saturday, April 30th, after a long day of work.  The private security guard was unwinding on his living room couch when the smoke alarm in the next room sounded.  Fire had erupted behind a wall on the second floor of his home, and the smoke was starting to fill the entire house.

“I knew it was a situation beyond my control,” he said just a few days after the incident.  He called 911 and evacuated the home.

Akron firefighters responded within minutes and were able to save the home, but not before significant damage had been done.  Despite the damage, Shawn’s most treasured possessions were spared.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I lost my military records and piano.”

Children’s toys filled a pack n’ play in the dining room of the home, and more toys were seen on the front porch.  They belong to Shawn’s 3-year old granddaughter Jemeara, who lives with her grandfather but was under someone else’s care and was not home the night of the fire.

The smoke alarm that alerted Shawn to the fire had been installed about a year earlier by Akron firefighters, through a partnership with the Red Cross.  The two firefighters who installed the alarm, Lieutenant Joe Falkenstein and firefighter Steve Dort returned to the home to check on Mr. Spaulding, who is now among 1,331people whose lives have been saved since 2014 as a result of the American Red Cross home fire campaign.

Akron firefighter Steve Dort, left, Shawn Spaulding and fire Lt.. Joe Falkenstein

“It saves lives,” Shawn said of the smoke alarm program. “It really does.”

To request a smoke alarm in the Akron area, residents can call 330-535-2030.  Elsewhere throughout Northern Ohio, you can visit to learn how to request smoke alarms for your home.

Smoke Alarm Requests Spike

Red Cross, Partners Hard at Work to Fulfill Requests Following Fatal Akron Fire

In the immediate aftermath of the devastating fire in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood on Saturday, December 3, hundreds of Northeast Ohio residents called the Red Cross to request free smoke alarms.

The Red Cross offers free smoke alarms, free installation, and free home fire safety inspections for every residence in need in Northeast Ohio.  This initiative, known locally as Operation Save-A-Life, began in Cleveland in 1992.  It has since been rolled out nationwide, with the goal of reducing serious injury and death due to home fires by 25% over a five year period.

On Tuesday, December 6, the Red Cross and the Akron Fire Department went door-to-door in the neighborhood where the fatal fire occured, offering to install smoke alarms in every home.  Many media outlets covered the effort, including the Akron Beacon Journal, WEWS, WJW, and WOIO.

“It’s very unfortunate that it takes something like this for the community to say, ‘Yes, we need smoke detectors,’ ” Rachel D’Attoma, Executive Director of the Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties Chapter told the ABJ.

If your home doesn’t have a working smoke alarm on every floor, log onto the Operation Save-A-Life page on the Red Cross website, or call 330-535-2030 in theAkron area, 216-361-5535 in Greater Cleveland, or 866-319-7160 in the Youngstown area.

North Akron Residents Better Protected From Home Fires

Free Smoke Alarms Installed in Dozens of Homes

Akron Fire Department personnel joined Red Cross volunteers and staff on Wednesday, November 4th to install more than 150 free smoke alarms in nearly 60 homes in North Akron.

The Akron  Fire Safety Walk was similar to efforts recently undertaken in Barberton, Canton and Madison Township.  The neighborhood was pre-canvassed, meaning residents were notified in advance that they’d have the opportunity to have qualified personnel perform a fire safety inspection in their homes, and where necessary, have smoke alarms installed free of charge.

“We installed 156 alarms in the North Akron area with help from the Akron Fire Department,” said Rachel D’Attoma, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Summit, Portage and Medina Counties Chapter. “In addition, many of our board members and corporate partners were on site to help as well.  Making this whole neighborhood safer was a true community effort.”

Photo Credit: Gwen Bochman/American Red Cross Volunteer

Volunteers who donated their time and expertise included representatives from Bober, Markey, Fedorovich, FedEx, Dominion, Ruhlin and BDO, in addition to personnel from the police departments of the city of Akron and the University of Akron.

We call the effort to install smoke alarms in areas most vulnerable to home fires Operation Save-A-Life.   The goal is to reduce the number of fatalities from home fires nationwide by 25% over a five year period.

Another Fire Safety Walk is planned next Tuesday, November 10th in Cuyahoga Falls. But residents of Summit County don’t have to wait until their neighborhood is targeted for an Operation Save-A-Life event. They can call the Smoke Alarm Hotline at 330-535-2030 to schedule an appointment for a for a free fire safety inspection and free smoke alarms where needed.