Home Fire Relief – Brainerd, Minnesota

Red Cross volunteers assist Brainerd couple after home fire

When a fire broke out at Tom Phillips’s home, he worried he and his fiance, Jenny Tienter, might have to spend the night in his car.

However, a team of volunteers with the Red Cross reached out to Phillips and his fiance to ensure they had a place to stay and provided them with other forms of assistance. In times of need, countless volunteers with the Red Cross assist people like Phillips and his fiance, who have been displaced by house fires.

“Without (the volunteers) I would’ve really been in a hard spot. They helped me out considerably,” Phillips said.

The Jan. 27 fire in Brainerd, Minnesota, began when a camping stove Phillips was using to prepare breakfast blew up. Phillips managed to get his fiance out of their burning home but unfortunately wasn’t able to get out his basset hound, Delilah.

“I miss her dearly,” he said, of Delilah. “That’s one loss I’m still trying to recover from, and I’m sure I never really will.”

Family photo of Delilah

Phillips said the Red Cross volunteers, including Dana Dimit, assisted him and his fiance in getting their lives back on track. He said he’s talked with the volunteers frequently, and they answered his questions and connected him with resources, including a mental health support group to help him cope with the loss of his dog.

Dimit has been volunteering with the Red Cross for nearly five years.

“The minute I retired I joined the Red Cross,” the former technology consultant said.

Dimit said she decided to volunteer in part because she wanted to “do something completely different,” that was “more people-oriented” and didn’t involve technology.

Dimit primarily works as a disaster responder with the Red Cross, but also does orientation for new volunteers and has been assisting with setting up a new internal system for tracking house fires.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Dimit has shifted to doing intake for fires that occur in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, gathering information about the fires and talking with those who have been displaced.

Dana Dimit

Dimit makes herself available, even in the middle of the night. She recalled a recent phone call she received late at night from someone displaced by fire who said they didn’t have any shoes or a place to go, so she helped ensure they had a place to stay.

 “If I don’t know what’s going on, I worry about them,” she said.

Despite losing his house and his belongings, Phillips said he’s trying to remain optimistic. Without the Red Cross, he said, he wouldn’t be where he is today.

“I couldn’t have done it without them,” he said.

Story by Blair Emerson – Red Cross volunteer

Home Fire Relief – Rapid City, South Dakota

‘That’s just what the Red Cross does’

Since Gene Rossman lost his home in a Feb. 27 fire, a volunteer with the Red Cross has called him weekly to check on him.

Rossman said when he last saw his home in Rapid City, South Dakota, it was “a ball of flames.” The fire destroyed his home and his belongings, including items his late mother crocheted and her cookbooks. He said he was left with nothing but the clothes he “had on (his) back.”

“Other stuff I can replace. I can’t replace that stuff,” he said, of his mother’s possessions.

Despite losing his home in the fire, luckily, neither he, his 16-year-old son or his two dogs were home when the fire broke out.

Photo used with permission from Johnson Siding Volunteer Fire Department, Pennington County, South Dakota

Since the fire, Rossman said he’s thankful for the calls he’s received from a volunteer with the Red Cross.

“They’ve done a good job. I guess that’s just what the Red Cross does,” he said.

Red Cross volunteers like the one who helped Rossman and countless other volunteers respond to home and apartment fires, assisting displaced residents. Volunteers make up about 90 percent of the American Red Cross workforce, and they respond to an average of more than 60,000 disasters every year.

Rossman said he is now undertaking the difficult task of trying to build a new home, but said he’s been grateful for the “wonderful” support he’s received from the Red Cross.

Story by Blair Emerson – Red Cross volunteer

Home Fire Relief – Winner, South Dakota

Red Cross assists families affected by Jan. 31 fire in Winner, S.D.

On Jan. 31, 2021, Lorelei Mendoza awoke to news her home of four years had been destroyed by a fire.

Lorelei was among 11 people displaced by a fire that broke out in the early morning hours at a five-plex in Winner, a small rural town located in south-central South Dakota. The American Red Cross provided disaster relief to the tenants.

Lorelei and her one-year-old son and two-year-old daughter were staying at a relative’s house when the fire broke out at the complex. When Lorelei learned of the fire, she went to assess the damage.

“(The fire) pretty much got out of hand, and there was pretty much nothing they could do until the fire department showed up and put it out,” she recalled.

Family photo

Lorelei said most of her belongings at her house were damaged by water used to put out the fire. The five-plex has been deemed a total loss, she said. Lorelei said her sister, who had moved into a unit adjacent to Lorelei’s just two days prior to the fire, was also displaced by the fire.

The item Lorelei misses most that was destroyed in the fire? “My home,” she said.

Lorelei said she’s grateful for the financial support she received from the Red Cross as she moves forward with trying to find new housing suitable for her and her children.

Story by Blair Emerson – Red Cross volunteer

Five years on, Home Fire Campaign continues to save lives: 11 to date in Minnesota

Smoke alarm installation day, Federal Dam, August 17, 2016. Photo: Mike Auger

For five years, we’ve been working with our partners to install free smoke alarms in high-risk communities and help families create escape plans through our Home Fire Campaign.

Every day, seven people die in home fires in the U.S., most in homes that don’t have working smoke alarms. That’s why the Red Cross launched our national Home Fire Campaign in 2014. We would like to thank everyone for their support to help prevent these needless tragedies.

So far, the campaign has saved 11 lives (details below) in Minnesota. Across the country, the national campaign efforts have saved at least 638 lives.

Our local impact includes:

Local Lives Saved

  • In Two Harbors, two lives were saved in January, 2019.  Thanks to Red Cross volunteers Tim and John who had installed the smoke alarms before the fire as part of Home Fire Campaign activities a couple years ago.
  • In Virginia, three lives were saved on May 20, 2019. The family received notification of a fire through a Lifetone bed-shaker smoke alarm installed just three months prior. The special alarm helps alert people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Thanks to the entire Virginia Fire Department for supporting this effort.  For more, see this story by WDIO ABC News in Duluth.
  • In Federal Dam, six lives were saved on January 2, 2019. Special thanks to Red Cross volunteer Mike Auger who responded to the fire to help the family and also installed the smoke alarm in August, 2016.  Thanks to partners Federal Dam Fire Department and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. For more, see this story by KBJR NBC News in Duluth.

You Can Help
Home fires are the nation’s most frequent disaster, and while we can’t always stop them from happening, we can help ensure families are prepared. Please help us to sound the alarm about home fire safety and save lives. Visit soundthealarm.org/mn to learn how you can join us by becoming a volunteer or making a donation to support our lifesaving services.

Volunteer spotlight: Desiree Haupert

Desiree with her son, Dylan, volunteering at Home Fire Campaign event in Marshall, MN. Photo courtesy of Desiree Haupert.

“This is an excellent way to give back to the same community and with our surrounding communities.”  Desiree Haupert, Red Cross Home Fire Campaign volunteer team lead for Marshall, Minnesota 

Story by Zabiba Sameru/American Red Cross

When I listen to Desiree Haupert, a mom and volunteer, speak about her experience with the American Red Cross, I can hear the excitement in her voice as she tells her story about being fulfilled as she continues to give her time to the Red Cross.

What started out as future planning to keep busy for Desiree in April of 2018 is turned into a lifetime rewarding experience. In her time volunteering at the Red Cross, she has been involved in many activities, such as Sound the Alarm by installing home smoke alarms and sharing fire safety tips in Slayton.

Red Cross volunteers responded to flooding in southwest Minnesota during 2018. Photo: Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

During the flood in Tracy, Desiree also was involved in helping residents find shelter, food and additional resources that could support them during their recovery from the flooding. She also is involved with the Pillowcase Project, campaign that teaches kids in grades 3 to 5 how to prepare for home fire emergencies and other disasters like tornadoes and blizzards.

As a duty officer, she takes calls for assistance requests, and then responds by reaching out to local Red Cross volunteers who give assistance to people who are affected by disasters. To top it all off, Desiree attends youth preparedness conferences to learn about engaging communities and provide support to them in the face of a disaster.

This year Sound the Alarm takes place April 27 – May 12.

It’s important and rewarding for Desiree to give back to her community and be an example for her kids with all the work that she’s doing with the Red Cross. Being a Red Cross volunteer gives you an opportunity to help your local community, says Desiree. “It gives me the opportunity to take ownership of something and grow in a way that I didn’t know I was needing. It’s amazing.”

On Saturday May 4, 2019, Red Cross volunteers and their partners will be installing free smoke alarms in Worthington.  Join us! Click here to learn more about the campaign. Click here to become a Red Cross volunteer. 

Smoke alarms are first line of defense to fight fires

By Kathleen Todd for the American Red Cross Minnesota Region

American Red Cross Minnesota Region smoke alarm installation, 2015.

When Suzie Olson of Saint Paul had a recent American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign visit, she had a big surprise.

“None of my smoke alarms actually worked. While I thought I had been on top of changing the batteries, my smoke detectors were so old that the smoke alarm itself was completely nonfunctional,” Olson says.  “I thought I had been so responsible about it.”

Olson took the first step to detecting a fire and now she wants others to take action. And the Red Cross wants to ensure that every household has working smoke alarms.

Please check the alarms in your home to see if they’re working. If not, replace the batteries or the alarms. The Red Cross can help you do this. Our Home Fire Campaign makes it possible for the Red Cross to install free smoke alarms that will help save lives during home fires.

Multi-unit apartment building fire, Robbinsdale, MN, 2016. Photo by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

The American Red Cross responds on average 60,000 disasters each year in the United Sates – and the vast majority of these are home fires. Since 2014, the Red Cross, in partnership with fire departments and other local groups, has visited homes and installed over a million free smoke alarms nationwide. Through these efforts, the Red Cross has saved over 250 lives.

In 2016, 43 Minnesotans lost their lives in fires. In 33 percent of the residential casualties, smoke alarms were absent or non-operating.

To request a smoke alarm installation for your home, community members can call 612-871-7676 or visit getasmokealarm.org. Appointments typically take 20-30 minutes.

Minnesota fire statistics provided by Minnesota State Fire Marshal

Sound the Alarm with the Red Cross

Most fire deaths are preventable. One major tool for prevention is a working smoke alarm. Yet, last year in Minnesota seven people died in fires in homes without working smoke alarms. And fire deaths are up 36 percent over this same time last year. To reduce home fire deaths and injuries volunteers and partners with the American Red Cross Minnesota Region will participate in Sound the Alarm.

“We need the public’s help to keep the number of fire deaths from climbing.” Bruce West, Minnesota State Fire Marshal

Between September 23 and October 15, 2017, the American Red Cross will install 100,000 free smoke alarms in more than 100 high-risk neighborhoods nationwide. During this period, the Red Cross will install its one-millionth free smoke alarm. This includes installing 1,525 alarms in the Minnesota Region of the American Red Cross. This surge expands the Home Fire Campaign, which the Red Cross launched in 2014. Since then, the Red Cross and its partners have made 368,000 households safer through smoke alarm installation.

“Having those smoke alarms was a blessing… we probably would have burned to death.” Crystal Parkinson, a home fire survivor thanks to a smoke alarm installed by Red Cross volunteers

Already the smoke alarms have saved 258 lives in the country. In the Minnesota Region, the Red Cross and partners have made 3,283 homes safer through installation of nearly 10,000 free smoke alarms. To further this effort, the Red Cross is asking people in the Minnesota Region to support Sound the Alarm home fire safety events this fall.

“This million-alarm milestone will focus the nation on the importance of having working smoke alarms in homes.” Phil Hansen, CEO of the American Red Cross Minnesota Region

Installation events will happen in 7 locations, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, Melrose, Goodhue, Rochester and McLeod County in Minnesota, and in Superior, Wisconsin. People can volunteer to install free smoke alarms in local communities. They also can raise money, or make a donation to support Sound the Alarm. Learn more today. Watch the new Sound the Alarm video and then visit soundthealarm.org/mn.

Story by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross. Minnesota fire statistics provided by Minnesota State Fire Marshal

Top reason to get involved in Red Cross Home Fire Campaign

rco_blog_img_Phil_and_Bea
Phil Hansen with Bea, 90, at her home in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Story and photo by Kaylee Beevers/American Red Cross Intern

On April 23, Phil Hansen, the senior executive for the American Red Cross Minnesota Region, had the opportunity to participate in Home Fire Campaign activities in St. Cloud. His experience was mostly what he expected: teams made up of Red Cross volunteers and St. Cloud firefighters installed smoke alarms. But this was his first time actually doing installation outreach in homes. “I was really surprised by the number of homes that had inadequate smoke alarms or didn’t have any at all. It was great for us to come in and help make these installations for people who needed it most.” The reason why Phil made the trip to St. Cloud is because he truly believes in what these installations are doing: saving lives. As of April 2016, Red Cross installed smoke alarms have saved more than 90 lives across the country. For Phil, the best part about making home visits was meeting gracious people and seeing their faces shine with thankfulness after sharing with them a lifesaving gift. “For the future, we plan to see this program grow throughout the country due to the number of lives saved.” One challenge, he says, is the number of volunteers and partners currently participating. “We have great groups going out to serve their communities, but we need more.” And the top reason to get involved: “It’s a great reward knowing you’ve impacted and changed lives within your community.”

Learn more about the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign.

These internet stars can do it in two minutes – can you?

What’s Trending has teamed up with the American Red Cross and your favorite social media celebs to help save lives.

By Christine Linnell, What’s Trending

Shira Lazar and Bart Baker can totally do it in two minutes. Destorm Power couldn’t do it back in high school, but by college he was doing it like a pro. GloZell? Under two minutes.

It’s not what it sounds like, but we’re glad we’ve got your attention.

The American Red Cross is reaching out to the online community and partnering with What’s Trending, iHeart Media, the Charity Network and the Reveal Project to launch #2Steps2Minutes, a campaign to promote home fire safety and help reduce deaths and injuries associated with home fires by 25%.

The two steps are simple: 1) practice your home fire drill until you can get out the door in less than two minutes, and 2) check your smoke alarms each month to see if the batteries need replacing.

It’s common sense stuff, but it could be the difference between life or death. On average, 7 people die every day and 36 are injured from a home fire. Having a working fire alarm alone can reduce your chances of death or injury by 50%

Here to remind you to stay prepared are some of your favorite social media stars and friends of What’s Trending. Directed by the Brothers Riedell, this PSA features Glozell Green, Frankie Grande, Bart Baker, Shira Lazar, Brodie Smith, Brittany Furlan, Destorm Power, Twan Kuyper, comedy duo Gaby Dunn and Alison Raskin, Teni Panosian, Amanda Cerny, 80fitz, Trisha Hershberger and Nick Riedell.

And there’s a lot more to come – throughout the campaign, celebrities and influencers will be supporting the Red Cross through your favorite social media platforms, special merch, exclusive auction items and one-of-a-kind experiences, all benefitting the non-profit.

It culminates with the fourth annual What’s Trending Tube-A-Thon fundraising event, taking place in April at the iHeart Theater in Burbank. Stay tuned for updates – you won’t want to miss it!

For more information about the campaign, visit RedCross.org/2steps2minutes.

Also, check out our exclusive behind-the-scenes video featuring bloopers and off-camera moments from your favorite stars!

This story is posted with permission. The original post was published on What's Trending

Every home fire death breaks a heart

HFCv2_763x260This past weekend there were two home fire deaths in Minnesota. One was a woman 25 years old and the other was a girl 5 years old. These sad and tragic deaths bring the number of home fire deaths to 46 this year in Minnesota. And like the people closest to these disasters, we feel our heart break each time we learn of a home fire death, and we especially feel the heart ache when Red Cross volunteers are responding to these disasters, helping the survivors rebuild their lives.

We do not know details about how the most recent home fires started. But we encourage everyone to  practice home fire safety, especially during the busy holiday season. Here are several resources that will get you started:

Icon PreparednessOne thing we’re passionate about is making sure that every household has working smoke alarms. Please check the alarms in your home to see if they’re working. If not, replace the batteries or the alarms. We can help you do this. Our Home Fire Campaign makes it possible for the Red Cross to install free smoke alarms that will help save lives during home fires.

Remember: if a fire starts in your home get out to safety, and then dial 9-1-1 for emergency assistance.