Following the tragic death by fire of Tong Vang, a friend of Peter's and also of Peter's advisor for his project, Jeff Lindsay, Peter chose to do a community service project to help Hmong families be better prepared to deal with fire in the home. Fire safety needs in the Hmong community are especially great due to the language barrier and lack of experience with smoke alarms, the 911 service, and other aspects of fire safety. Tony Vang's death could have been prevented, and it is Peter's aim to see that such a tragedy does not occur again in the Hmong community of the Fox Cities. The following summarizes some of the activities that Peter conducted toward this project.
We also worked with Walter Reade of the Asia-Focus Network at Kimberly-Clark. Walter shared information with other members of the group and arranged for two volunteers to help with the Hmong New Year celebration. Kimberly-Clark donated two large posters for Hmong fire safety.
The Nov. 20, 3002 Hmong New Year's Event at Appleton East High School was very successful. Peter and volunteers from Troop 178 and Kimberly-Clark set up and managed a display table at the Hmong New Year celebration. Seven Appleton firefighters assisted from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M. Literature was given to many people, and personal discussions about fire safety occurred numerous times. Dozens of people left with increased awareness of fire safety. Over 50 hours of donated time went into this phase of the project.
Preparations also included obtaining 30 copies of a Hmong fire safety video prepared by the LaCrosse Fire Department in the Hmong language, with the copies donated by Kimberly-Clark for distribution to Hmong families. We also contacted numerous Hmong families to arrange for visits from our trained volunteers and Appleton firefighters.
On Dec. 18, 2002, twelve young men and four adults join three firefighters from the Appleton Fire Department to visit Hmong homes, splitting up into several groups. Each group took a supply of materials, including the Hmong videos, to give to families we visited. Ten families received materials on fire safety, and were given instruction regarding escape plans, smoke alarms, and calling 911. One woman did not know how to dial 911 or say "Fire," and was given instruction and helped to practice her new skill. Two defective smoke alarms were replaced or given new batteries.
Peter Lee, Lee Pao Vang, Hue B. Lee, and Jim Peglow of the Neenah-Menasha Fire Department about to visit a Hmong family in Menasha
Jim Peglow giving us a tour of the Neenah-Menasha fire department on Neenah.
On Feb. 8, 2003, Peter Lee and three volunteers went with firefighter Jim Peglow of the Neenah-Menasha Fire Dept. and visited 5 families in Neenah and Menasha to check smoke alarms and give basic information. In one case, we found a wired smoke alarm that had been disabled, and gave the family two new ones that that they gratefully received. The Neenah-Menasha Fire Department also took the names and phone numbers of our group to assist with translating if the need arises in the future.
The total donated time for the project so far as of March 12, 2003, has been 130 hours.
A defective smoke alarm in a Hmong home.
Peter Lee by a smoke alarm he installed during his project.
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