Home fires are the most common disaster faced by American families, yet 80 percent of Americans are unaware of just how frequent home fires affect their neighbors, coworkers and family members. According to the American Red Cross and the National Fire Protection Association, fires kill more Americans each year than all natural disasters combined. Nationwide, Red Cross volunteers respond to more than 60,000 home fires each year – including an average of about one a day in Colorado. Among those volunteers is retiree and Disaster Action Team captain Jerome Roberts, who has been volunteering helping people affected by home fires for 25 years.
As DAT captain, Jerome works to coordinate on-site services that supply home-fire survivors with food, shelter, clothing and other basic needs. His team works with fire department personnel to whether it is safe for residents to return to their homes affected by fire, and helps clients take the next steps toward rebuilding their lives.
Jerome’s work with the Red Cross began 25 years ago, but was inspired by his mother’s experience with the Service to the Armed Forces during World War II. The service helped Jerome’s mother locate her husband during the war, and Jerome always felt the need to pay it forward to the organization. “They got in touch with him, and her help from the Red Cross made me want to go give as much as I can to the Red Cross.”
In his experience as a volunteer, Jerome has worked with countless clients whose lives have been affected by home fires in Colorado and Ohio. Despite the difficulty of the work, Jerome says he enjoys the dimension of helping those who have nowhere else to go. “I’m 76-years old, and it keeps me going,” he said. “It’s one of the things I love doing.”