SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County Battalion Chief Chris Baker was all smiles while being honored by the Greater Orlando Red Cross on Monday.
“Today was a highlight of my career getting out there to serve the community,” said Baker, who has been a Seminole County firefighter for 19 years.
“We’re standing here today because of the initiative of Chris Baker at the time Lieutenant Baker and his crew,” Fire Chief for Seminole County, Matt Kinley said. “This is just one example of the many reasons why battalion chief Chris Baker is worthy of this recognition and you can see why he was promoted from lieutenant to battalion chief.”
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In 2017, Baker spearheaded an outreach program to the Winwood community east of Altamonte Springs to check and install smoke alarms.
“This started roughly 2017 where we went to a house that didn’t have numbers on it for our medical call, and then there was a delay in response there were multiple houses out there we couldn’t find the right house, so I took the initiative, drove the neighborhood to find out what the community needs,” Baker recalled. He said he found a need for smoke alarms, and for home numbers to be painted on to mailboxes.
“At the time when this all started, a couple of houses, maybe five in a row didn’t have an address on them. So, putting numbers on their houses helps us get there faster get a better outcome,” Baker said.
The installations were done in partnership with the American Red Cross. According to the organization, seven people die each year from a house fire.
“Back in 2014, the Red Cross launched the Home Fire Campaign, which includes installing free smoke alarms,” Janice Moran, the executive director of Greater Orlando Red Cross said. “Last time we checked, we have saved 1,448 lives through this program, and so today we’re here to celebrate another one,” Moran said – referring to Thomas Wayne, a resident of Seminole County whose house caught fire this past April.
“It started off of another lot next to my house, and it caught on to a shed I had outside,” Thomas, a senior who lives by himself said.
Thomas’ house was among 61 that in 2017 got free smoke alarms installed.
“The firemen got there real quick, so it didn’t take long to put it out,” Thomas recalled.
In 2021, the Seminole County Fire department distributed and installed 3,092 smoke alarms, many in underserved areas and older home neighborhoods in the county.
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