Chevron Richmond recognized for helping Red Cross ‘Sound the Alarm’ on fire safety

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Chevron Richmond recognized for helping Red Cross ‘Sound the Alarm’ on fire safety
Nineteen Chevron Richmond volunteers helped install 93 free smoke alarms in the Parchester Village neighborhood.

The Red Cross Contra Costa Leadership Council recently recognized Chevron Richmond for its ongoing support of the organization, including a recent volunteer effort during which 19 company employees helped install free smoke alarms in homes within the Parchester Village neighborhood. 

The Leadership Council honored Chevron at its 7th Annual partner recognition event Jan. 25 at Contra Costa Community College District Office in Martinez.

Chevron is a long-running supporter of the Red Cross, contributing financially and through other initiatives like last year’s blood drive at its Richmond facility. The company aims to support the nonprofit’s mission to provide resources to citizens enduring disasters, along with prevention and preparedness tools.

Last fall marked the first time the company partnered with the local Red Cross on its Sound of the Alarm program. The initiative sent 19 employees to the Parchester Village neighborhood to install free smoke alarms and to provide fire prevention education. The volunteers spent one day going door-to-door asking neighbors if they needed working alarms, then returned one week later for the installation.

In total, 93 smoke alarms were installed during the event. Fourteen of the alarms were installed in the homes of seniors over the age of 65. The event occurred during Chevron’s annual Fall Volunteer Campaign, where over 3,000 of its Bay Area employees volunteered on 230 projects for 111 nonprofits over the course of several weeks.

The Sound the Alarm program actually runs year-round across the nation, including Contra Costa County. Since 2014, the program is estimated to have saved about 2,000 lives. When the Red Cross responds to a house fire and notices one of its alarms were used, the organization counts the number of survivors of the incident as lives saved.

Unfortunately, seven people die daily from home fires in the U.S., a grim statistic the Sound the Alarm program aims to bring down to zero. In Contra Costa County, the local Red Cross is notified of approximately two to three home fires daily. Many homes lack working smoke alarms that can notify residents of the danger before it is too late, according to Natalie Manier, disaster program manager for the local chapter.

While some people can’t afford smoke alarms, others who are elderly or disabled may need help replacing their batteries or physically installing them, Manier said.

“The goal really is to take down barriers that people have to working smoke alarms,” she said.

Andrew Sorley, routine maintenance manager at Chevron who also serves as a member of the Red Cross Contra Costa Leadership Council, lauded the experience of meeting neighbors in person and directly impacting their safety.

“Sound the Alarm provides an opportunity to have a direct connection with the people you are helping,” Sorley said.

The home visits typically include an installer of the alarm, an educator to provide fire safety tips to the resident, and a documenter.

Manier oversees a team of about 120 Red Cross volunteers in Contra Costa County. The local Red Cross chapter also forms partnerships in the community, including with companies like Chevron, to extend its reach and impact in the county.

“We enter areas we don’t normally have access to,” Manier said, noting the Red Cross would like to increase its presence in West County, considered a high-need area.

In addition to its partnership with Chevron Richmond, the local Red Cross chapter partners with other businesses, organizations and agencies, including local fire departments. For example, the Contra Costa Fire Protection District receives many calls from residents requesting support with smoke alarms. Since they lack the personnel to address requests, Con Fire now sends those requests to the Red Cross to fulfill.

“We provide the alarms and firefighters are doing the installs, which occur on Wednesdays,” Manier said.

Sound the Alarm is about saving lives, and the best part is you don’t need to be a business or a fire department to support the program, according to Manier. A majority of Red Cross volunteers do not live in West Contra Costa County, she notes.

“We need people within the community helping the community, because right now we have people from Antioch and Walnut Creek driving to West County,” Manier said. “I love it when volunteers respond to a home that is right down the street from them.”

Interested in volunteering? Sign up at redcross.org. Another way to support the organization is through donations, which can be made by clicking here.