Boy’s Death Inspires Smoke Alarms Program
by Kate Walters/American Red Cross Volunteer
On June 29, 2019 Leadville/Lake County Fire & Rescue, Lake County community partners and the American Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado installed their 500th smoke alarm just 4 years after the tragic death of 10-year-old Marc Lizardo in a Leadville home fire.
In the early morning hours of May 30, 2015, young Marc Lizardo saw flames in his living room and alerted family members to get out of their burning home. The rest of the family escaped, but at some point, he succumbed to the smoke and fire in the home and could not get out. Sadly, Marc Lizardo perished in that fire. Later it was determined that the home did not have working smoke alarms.
The people of the small town of Leadville, Colorado were deeply moved by the tragedy. First responders of Leadville/Lake County Fire & Rescue (LLCFR) were especially troubled by the loss of the little boy. LLCFR Captain Ortiz said, “Being such a small department in a small town, it hit us hard. As a department, we showed up for the funeral, which was probably one of the hardest things our department has ever done.” In the aftermath of the terrible tragedy, the firefighters were stirred to do anything and everything they could to ensure that nothing like this ever happened in their community again.
Leadville’s Deputy Chief Fire Marshall Steve Boyle, who is also a Disaster Action Team volunteer with the American Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado, was on scene the day after the tragic fire. He couldn’t help but think, if there had only been working smoke alarms in the home, perhaps Lizardo would have made it out alive. He is heartbreakingly aware that smoke alarms are a very effective early warning system to allow residents time to put out a small fire, or escape a home if need be.
Boyle had recently become aware that the Red Cross had a Home Fire Campaign program that inspects and installs free smoke alarms in homes and educates families on home fire safety. He made a call to his local Red Cross chapter.
After fielding Boyle’s request for smoke alarms, Sally Broomfield, Senior Disaster Program Manager for the Southeastern Colorado Red Cross Chapter, asked him how many alarms he thought he might need. The fire marshal was thinking big. He knew his team was eager to save lives. With the total number of households in the county being approximately 3,300, he took a deep breath and told her that they wanted to install 500 smoke alarms. Broomfield was thrilled at the ambitious request if perhaps a bit dubious that a large number of alarms would ever actually be installed. Not wanting to deter this zealous group, she embraced the idea and began to support the community’s efforts to install alarms. To hear Broomfield tell the story, “I thought, 500 alarms? In this small town? I told him I would buy him a case of the beverage of his choice if he could pull that off. He chose Gatorade!”
Soon after, the mobilization of Leadville’s American Red Cross Sound the Alarm campaign began. Members of LLCFR and the Red Cross teamed up to train willing volunteers on how to install smoke alarms and educate residents on home fire safety. Many local agencies jumped in to get involved.
They began to raise awareness about the program and the availability of free smoke alarms along with installation and education. They worked with the city of Leadville to send flyers in resident’s water bill. They set up fire safety booths at numerous public events informing their citizens of the program. Firehouse mom Phyllis Carnahan even wore a homemade “sandwich board” at local community gatherings to encourage residents to take advantage of the program.
Over the course of the next 4 years, LLFCR and the many other community members tirelessly carried their drills and step ladders and brand-new smoke alarms throughout the entirety of Lake County knocking on doors, checking and installing smoke alarms, educating families and saving lives.
On Saturday, June 29, 2019, just over 4 years after the early morning fire that took 10-year-old Marc Lizardo’s life, Leadville/Lake County Fire & Rescue, Lake County community partners, along with the American Red Cross have achieved their extraordinary goal. Every door in Leadville’s Mountain View Village West and East, where the boy lived with his family, has been knocked on. Over 500 smoke alarms have been installed making Leadville and Lake County homes safer.
John Ortiz, Captain of the LLCFR and the first firefighter on the scene the night of the Lazardo fire states, “The percentage of homes that were in need of smoke alarms in this area was very high. I can’t think of a program that has a bigger impact on a community by actually warning people to get out of a burning structure and therefore saving lives.”
An exuberant shout out to Fire Marshall Steve Boyle is in order for his tenacity in making sure the mission was accomplished. Sally Broomfield, Red Cross Senior Disaster Program Manager loves to sing his praises. “Steve is just an awesome volunteer. He has a giant heart to share the message of preparedness and prevention with his community. Over the last few years, he has kept on doggedly until he and his team met the goal. I am so proud of the Leadville team!”
Young Marc Lizardo was honorarily named an LLCFR firefighter for his heroic role in saving the lives of his family members. He lives on in the hearts of the Leadville and Lake county citizens that set a goal of installing 500 smoke alarms in his name, and then successfully rose to the challenge. We may never know when or if lives were saved, but we can rest assured that there are over 500 new working smoke alarms installed in Lake County homes, and they will sound if smoke is detected, and warn residents to evacuate immediately.
If you would like to be part of the Sound the Alarm Campaign to make homes safer by installing free smoke alarms and educating families in your community, or to make a donation to the campaign, go to SoundTheAlarm.org. This entry was posted with permission from the American Red Cross.
Trailer Park Still No Water To Fight Fires
Four years after the tragic death of Marc Lizardo, the Mountain View West Trailer Park still has “no water source here, no hydrant, no infrastructure for a hydrant system” in order to fight a fire should another incident occur. Leadville Today was there and covered the story, talked to Marc’s family and friends and saw a close-knit community grieve and a mother’s heart, break.
LT also witnessed Fire Marshal Steve Boyle take action and the results are noted in the story above. There’s no doubt that his efforts have saved lives and brought a needed educational component to the Leadville/Lake County community. And while it’s true that he has received help from many, Boyle has pretty much been a one-man show, keeping his commitment and making it happen. You’re a hero, Steve!
But its worth noting that there’s still not a plan in place at the trailer park to fight another fire. Yes, the water trucks can come in as they did in this case, but the response results of that plan speak for itself. In the meantime, the amount of money, time and resources that Lake County and its “community partners,” have put into playground planning and other social programs seems out of balance. Yes, they have their value, but public safety has to be Number One. Leadville Today has been noticing these kinds of trends and will be bringing them to the attention of readers as Lake County turns the page on a new decade. Feel free to write at info@leadvilletoday, or join the online discussion on any one of our social media platforms.
Meet Leadville’s Fire Rescue Team
Eighteen Graduate from Fire Academy
Since August, cadets have been taking two college-level courses totaling 12 credit hours: Firefighter I and Hazardous Materials Operations. The academy curriculum included classes at Colorado Mountain College Leadville and hands-on training at the college’s live burn facility in Eagle County.
On December 7, those 18 firefighters were presented with Fire Academy I certificates. Certification prepares graduates for firefighting careers with Leadville/Lake County Fire Rescue and surrounding fire departments.
Fire Academy instructors are both active and retired firefighters, representing nine fire departments throughout the region – including Eagle River, Summit, Vail, Greater Eagle, Glenwood Springs, Salida, Colorado River, Leadville, and Red, White and Blue. Addressing the new firefighters at the commencement were Lieutenant Zak Miller of Vail Fire and CMC’s fire science program coordinator; Eagle River Fire Protection District firefighter and instructor Brandon Drury; Leadville Fire Rescue Chief Dan Dailey; and Eagle River Fire Rescue Chief Karl Bauer.
In his address, Bauer asked for a moment of silence and then spoke of the death of Summit Fire & EMS firefighter Ken Jones, who died fighting a fire at Copper Mountain early that same morning. Bauer told the new firefighters that serving others was central to firefighter Jones’ life, and he congratulated the graduates for their choice to serve others as well. As part of the ceremony, Chief Dailey awarded Instructor of the Year to Ryan Gregor. Both Cadet of the Year and Academic Excellence awards went to graduate Zachary Cherry, and Jonathan Burnham received the Certificate of Perseverance.