Nearly 100 volunteers turned out at Riverhead Fire Department headquarters May 13 for the kickoff of the Red Cross 'Sound the Alarm' campaign in Suffolk County. Photo: Alek Lewis

Nearly 100 volunteers from across New York State gathered at the Riverhead Fire House on Roanoke Avenue Friday morning to prepare to install fire alarms as a part of the Red Cross “Sound The Alarm” campaign.

Officials said volunteers would install 350-400 smoke alarms in 150 homes from Bay Shore to East Hampton. Volunteers from the Red Cross were joined by volunteers from PSEG Long Island, National Grid, AAA and Biacomm.

Jose Dominguez, the CEO of Red Cross Long Island, said there was a “phenomenal turnout” of volunteers.

“The fact that we’re providing free smoke alarms and installing them in the homes of community members here in Riverhead and close by, and reminiscing back to November, sadly, when there was a huge house fire here where we lost five community members,” Dominguez said, referring to the fatal fire at the historic home on East Second Street. “And so, to reflect upon that and the fact that we’re all here, we want to make a difference — with our wonderful volunteers, our wonderful partners — is really heartwarming to me and inspires me to continue to do what I do.”

Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio, center, with Red Cross Long Island CEO Jose Dominguez, and Riverhead Fire Department ex-Captain Bill Sanok at Riverhead Fire Department Headquarters May 13 to kick off the Red Cross “Sound The Alarm” campaign in Suffolk County. Photo: Alek Lewis

Speakers reiterated the importance of fire alarms after the fatal fire on East Second Street. It isn’t clear whether or not smoke detectors in the home were triggered by the fire, as it isn’t mentioned in a report of the incident by Suffolk County Police. The owner of the home told Suffolk County Police during an investigation into the fire that there were functioning smoke detectors on the second and third floors of the home. Second-floor tenants corroborated that to police about detectors in their apartment.

During remarks, members of the Riverhead Volunteer Fire Department emphasized the importance of the work the volunteers are doing for Riverhead and the surrounding communities and thanked them for helping them protect residents’ homes.

“When I first joined in 1968, we had many big fires — fires start small. But when you have a smoke detector, you can catch them when they’re still small,” Riverhead Volunteer Fire Department ex-Captain Bill Sanok said. “That’s why they are so important. Anytime we lose people in fire…there was no active or operating smoke detectors. That’s why what you’re doing today is so important.”

Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio delivered a proclamation to both the Riverhead Fire Department and the Red Cross in appreciation for their service to the community.

“We’re very thankful for you all as volunteers at the Red Cross,” Giglio said. “The Red Cross is so valuable to people, not only in New York State, but of the United States. So we’re very thankful for you being here.”

“There are a lot of people that aren’t aware of fire safety and the smoke alarms — the batteries are dead,” Giglio said. “You’re going out there and you’re visiting these residents and saying how important it is. By you volunteering your time to do so it’s really putting something in their head saying how important it is and how much you care about their health, safety and welfare.”

Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman thanked the Red Cross and the volunteers on behalf of Suffolk County.

“The idea of people coming together, from what you do for a living, whether you’re with one of the companies that sends folks here, whether you’re a volunteer, you’re here doing things that will ultimately save somebody’s life,” Kaiman said. “But they’re not going to know it. The person’s life you saved, because of your volunteer work today, you won’t know that you saved them, and they won’t know that you’re the person that showed up. And somehow you’re making a difference in people’s lives down the road.”

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: [email protected]