One Red Crosser‘s Commitment to Make Homes Safer

By: Lily McCarthy, American Red Cross 

Larry Berman has been volunteering with the American Red Cross in Connecticut and Rhode Island for the past nine years. When he first joined back in 2012, he was interested in helping people affected by local emergencies. He soon joined the Disaster Action Team (DAT), providing comfort on-scene to people who had just experienced a home fire or other emergency. After responding to help at many home fires that didn’t have working smoke alarms, or in some cases, didn’t have any smoke alarms at all, his passion for home fire safety grew. 

In 2014, the Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign, a program that aims to make homes safer by installing free smoke alarms and providing home fire safety education.  

Each year, in addition to the Home Fire Campaign, the Red Cross hosts its signature Sound the Alarm event. Volunteers gather in each region for a day-long event to install free smoke alarms in local communities.  

Getting involved with the Home Fire Campaign is the perfect fit for Larry and his desire to help others. He is now acting as program coordinator for Connecticut. Larry’s passion for this program is second to none. He has participated in every Sound the Alarm event to date, in addition to fulfilling installation appointments in homes multiple times a week. 

Larry Berman installed smoke alarms during the a Sound the Alarm event.

Since the start of this campaign, Larry has installed approximately 4,000 smoke alarms, which is no easy feat considering the two-year pause as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. An even greater statistic he notes is the number of homes made safer – nearing 1,400 family homes from Larry and his team. 

The Red Cross recognizes Larry Berman for the countless hours he has put into continuously making family homes safer. With close to 1,500 installation visits, he wants it known that he could not do this on his own, it has been a team effort. 

Larry and Mario Bruno, CEO of the Red Cross Connecticut and Rhode Island Region, have a friendly competition going on, trying to figure out who has installed the most smoke alarms. “I just tell people to ask Mario how many he installed, then add one and that’s how many I installed,” Larry jokes. Even though there are serious matters being dealt with daily at the Red Cross, this fun spirit keeps everyone smiling.  

We are so thankful for Larry and all of our volunteers for the dedication they have to help others. We wouldn’t be able to do it without them! 

“Installing smoke alarms and providing valuable home fire safety and fire escape planning information has become one of my passions at the Red Cross after years of responding as a DAT (Disaster Action Team) to assist families displaced by home fires,” Larry said. “So oftentimes, there was not a single working smoke alarm in their home. Every time my teammates and I finish an in-home visit, we depart knowing that family is going to bed safer that night and every night for many years to follow.” 

Join Larry and the Red Cross team this year during our annual Sound the Alarm events in New Haven, CT, on May 7th and 21st.

We strive to make homes safe and cut the risk of dying in home fires in half with every smoke alarm installation. For more information on how to sign up for a FREE smoke alarm installation, visit: http://www.SoundtheAlarm.org/Connecticut.

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