Volunteers Help Belvidere Residents Be Fire Safe


The incredible damage on Jackson St. in Belvidere is still evident after the location suffered a fire that killed one woman and injured several others in March. The building, now in ruins.

“Fires today, as opposed to twenty years ago, because everything is made out of synthetic materials, they burn hotter, faster, and the smoke is blacker,” said Shawn Schadle, Lieutenant of the Belvidere Fire Department.

The Belvidere Fire Department and members of the Red Cross collaborated Saturday, to help prevent future fire deaths. “People think they have time to get out if there’s something on fire in their house,” Schadle said. “That’s just not true, you need to have working smoke detectors so you can get out,” he added.

Volunteers and firefighters knocked on doors and installed free smoke alarms, also furthering awareness on what residents can do to make sure they are safe in an event of a fire. “The Red Cross is known to respond to disasters and people are really not aware the biggest disaster that we respond to throughout the country is house fires,” said Northern Illinois Red Cross Executive Director Lisa LaSala.

LaSala has experienced the dangers of fire firsthand, once losing her own home to a blaze. She says through volunteer efforts they hope to decrease fire related deaths by 20 percent by the year 2020. “Once a smoke alarm goes off, you only have approximately two minutes to exit your home,” LaSala said. “If you didn’t have that smoke alarm, you wouldn’t have that warning. It’s really important that people stay safe,” she added.

“The earlier the detection that you can get out, the more likely someone is going to be able to get out okay,” Schadle said.

For those who want a smoke alarm and need help installing one, The Red Cross can be called for appointments.

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