WARREN - One way to make a difference is to learn from tragedy and work toward making sure it doesn't happen again.
Members of the Warren Fire Department and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 204 remember all too well the days they responded to Landsdowne and Austin avenues.
On June 16, 2011, a house fire on Landsdowne Boulevard N.W. killed Derek Dorsey, 30; his fiancee, Audrea Johnson, 31; their two children, Derek Dorsey Jr., 11, and Ariell Dorsey, 9; and nieces Ja'Niece Hicks of Columbus, 13, and Miracle Hugley, 9, of Ferndale Avenue S.W.
It was the deadliest fire in Warren's history.
Then on March 3, Edtawn L. Kimble, 32, and his girlfriend, Yolanda D. Holmes, 38, and two of Holmes' children, Mari'Auna Holmes, 13, and Marniece Holmes, 9, died in a fire at their 160 Austin Ave. N.W. home.
In both cases, the homes had no working smoke detectors, fire Chief Ken Nussle said.
To register or find projects or for other details, visit www.tribtoday.com, scroll down the page and click on the Make A Difference Day link on the left. To apply for smoke detector installation, call the Warren City Fire Department, 330-841-2542.
Firefighters and local agencies have said enough is enough and on Oct. 27 - national Make A Difference Day - they intend to do something about it.
The union has banded together with more than a dozen local groups to form the Save A Life Smoke Alarm initiative, which will begin on Make A Difference Day, to put First Alert smoke alarms in the homes of those who need them.
"The facts bear out that fatalities due to fires can be greatly reduced by smoke alarms, and in this day and age, we want to get the message out there and protect all the homes in the City of Warren and make sure they get that basic protection," fire Lt. Chuck Eggleston said.
Eggleston said the fire alarms are tamper-resistant and contain 10-year lithium batteries.
He said that the biggest issues with smoke alarms involve placing them in the right spot and having working batteries.
"I'm trying to take care of as many of the issues with the failures of smoke detectors as I can within the project," he said.
The program is intended for Warren residents. People interested in having smoke alarms installed in their homes must complete an application. Warren firefighters will prioritize applicants based on fire fatality statistics and need. Smoke alarms will be installed by volunteers from HandsOn Volunteer Network of the Valley on Make A Difference Day.
It's only the beginning of a new program, Eggleston said. All applicants will be contacted to inform them if they will receive an alarm this year, and any applicant who does not receive an alarm this year will stay on the list until a smoke alarm is placed in their home, he said.
The whole of the effort includes Area Agency on Aging 11, Help Me Grow, Life Lines, Mobile Meals, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Red Cross, Akron Children's Safe Kids Mahoning Valley, Trumbull County SCOPE, Community Action Program, Children Services, Office of Elderly Affairs and Sheriff's Office Senior Service Unit, Steel Valley Federal Credit Union, United Way, Warren City Schools, Weed and Seed, and WIC.
"It's truly a community effort," Eggleston said. "We have created an application and we're participating with agencies that deal with the target groups we're looking to protect and everybody's kind of playing their role."
Nationally, Make A Difference is marking its 22nd year. The national program is sponsored by USA Weekend Magazine and the Hands-On Network, and supported by Newman's Own food company.
The Tribune Chronicle sponsors the local event.
The newspaper's sponsorship has twice been recognized through national awards, which have brought in $20,000 in awards to be used for further projects.
In 2004, USA Weekend Magazine recognized 2003's event as one of the nation's best and presented the Tribune with $10,000. In 2007, the Tribune received the $10,000 Encore Award for a past national winner that increased its efforts in a subsequent year.
In both cases, the awards were matched by the Trumbull 100, which brought the total awards to $40,000.
The Tribune is no longer eligible for national awards, but Shafer said local volunteers should register their projects with the Tribune Chronicle and ServeOhio.org so they may be considered for the national prize for groups.
To register or find projects, or for other details, log onto www.tribtoday.com, scroll down the page and click on the Make A Difference Day link on the left.