It takes only 30 seconds for a fire to double in size, regardless of what type of home it starts in.
That’s why having working smoke alarms is vitally important, Davenport Fire Lt. Zach Soliz said Thursday.
“The quicker we have that notification, we can respond faster and mitigate that situation,” he said during a media briefing at the Five Seasons mobile home park on Fairmount Street.
From 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, the fire department and the American Red Cross of the Quad-Cities and West Central Illinois will install free smoke alarms to homeowners at the mobile home park as part of an ongoing program to help prevent property damage, serious injury and death.
Five Seasons reached out to the fire department following a fire that broke out Dec. 21 in a mobile home fire in the park that took the lives of Kelsey Clain, 23, and her children Jayden Smead, 5, and Carson Smead, 2. Two other children, Isabella Smead, 9 months, and Skylar Smead, 4, died later at University Hospitals, Iowa City.
The cause of that fire is undetermined. Fire officials have said there were no working smoke alarms in the mobile home.
Angie Moss, regional director of YES! Communications which operates the mobile home park, said the company reached out to the fire department after the fire.
“We realize with the recent tragedy that awareness is imperative and we want to be extremely proactive and make sure that our residents are aware of the resources available to them,” she said.
The Davenport Fire Department launched its smoke alarm program in 2012 and has installed around 150 alarms to-date. About 50 of them have been installed since the fall, Soliz said.
The fire department’s year-round program works specifically with home owners who don’t have smoke alarms installed.
As they do the installations, firefighters talk to home owners about how and where to install them — on every floor off the kitchen and sleeping areas.
Landlords are required to provide smoke alarms to tenants, who in turn are required to maintain them.
The winter months tend to be busy for area firefighters as several factors, such as holiday cooking and the use of fireplaces, furnaces, space heaters and electrical cords present the potential for starting a fire.
Soliz said Davenport firefighters have handled 25 building fires, 11 cooking fires and three other fire-related incidents since Nov. 1.
“The loss of property, and unfortunately the loss of lives, has made this year unique compared to years past,” he said.
Soliz said that some people think that a fire can’t happen to them or “I’d wake up, my dog would wake me up.”
That’s why early alert through a functioning smoke alarm is so important for the home, he said.
“It’s just important to reflect on what happened, reflect on what’s available and learn from it,” he said. “We’ll try to help out the best we can.”
Soliz said the fire department already has had requests to install about two dozen smoke alarms during Saturday's event.
Moss said the mobile home park currently has 222 occupied units on the property and that the majority of the residents are homeowners.
She said the park staff frequently checks smoke alarms in the rental units and makes free smoke alarms available to homeowners who need them.
"This is truly something that hit home for us and something that we're very happy to be a part of," Moss said of Saturday's event.
Amber MacGrath, disaster program manager of the local Red Cross chapter, said that there has been a record number of fire responses in the Quad-City area this year.
The Red Cross has been called in to assist at 199 fire-related incidents since Jan. 1, she added.
Typically, they typically respond to 60-90 calls in January.
“I think part of that also is our continuing work and partnership with our fire departments,” she said. “We work really hard to make sure our first responders are reaching out to the Red Cross so that we can be there to support the families that are impacted.”
The Red Cross launched its own smoke alarm campaign in 2014 with the goal of decreasing death and injuries by 25 percent. Since then, the Red Cross has installed thousands of smoke alarms.
They also hosted "Sound the Alarm, Save a Life" in the fall, which aimed to put 100,000 smoke alarms in homes across the country. The Red Cross will again host the event in April, MacGrath said.