SCRANTON -- Volunteers with the American Red Cross fanned out along the 800 block of Hickory Street in south Scranton, going door to door, asking homeowners if they needed a smoke alarm installed in their house, all free of charge.
“That's really nice because this is an old neighborhood and I think there's older people who need that to go around and knock and see if they have alarms, smoke alarms,” said neighbor Jane Osborne.
This push for safety comes after a fire at a house in that neighborhood claimed the life of the man who lived there early Saturday morning.
Now there is a makeshift memorial for the victim, 63-year-old John Novoczynski, up on his porch made by friends and neighbors who miss him.
“Very sad, it really is. He's like an icon in the neighborhood. He's been here a long time, lot of people knew him,” said Osborne. “He walked. He didn't have a car, so he always would be talking to people up and down the neighborhood, so it's sad.”
The Scranton fire chief says there were no working smoke alarms in Novoczynski's home, so volunteers with the Red Cross are making sure this tragedy isn't repeated.
“I did find out that home did not have any working smoke alarms,” said Jeff Banks with the Red Cross. “We need to get out there tonight and make sure these people have working smoke alarms.”
Volunteers gathered at Red Cross headquarters in Scranton to be briefed by Banks before hitting the street in Novoczynski’s neighborhood.
“Knocking on doors, introducing ourselves, I'm Jeff with the American Red Cross,” Banks explained to the room of volunteers. “We're coming out due to the incident in your community and we just want to check your smoke alarms.”
“Especially we heard there's little children here, putting smoke alarms and teaching them, giving packets. It's going to save lives. It's not hoping, it will, and that's what the Red Cross is about,” said volunteer Vince Masters.
The Red Cross says 63 smoke alarms were installed in that neighborhood Monday night.
The cause of fire is still under investigation and results from the autopsy have not come back.
Anyone who would like free smoke alarms installed in their homes can contact their nearest Red Cross office. In Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, the number is 1-800-42-CROSS. In other parts of northeast and central Pennsylvania, you can find your nearest Red Cross office by visiting redcross.org and entering your zip code.