Monday, November 5, 2012

A Story You Don't Want to Be A Part Of...

I’ve come to realize that every firefighter, whether full time, part time, volunteer, or public safety officer assigned to the fire division, has a story. Anyone who has been riding in those big red trucks long enough has had a signature experience, or experiences, that continues to propel them and motivate them as they work in the fire department. I’m lucky because over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to hear many of those stories; some heartwarming, some heartbreaking, all inspiring. If you are ever lucky enough to hear their stories, you will realize how lucky we are that there is a class of people who train daily to run inside a burning building when others run out. You may also come to the conclusion, as I have, that you never want to be a character in a firefighter’s story.

Every firefighter has a story about a confused or distracted driver who doesn’t know what to do when they see a fire truck coming. If the lights and siren are on, then that fire truck is on its way because someone called for help. The firefighters in the truck are doing their absolute best to respond quickly and safely to the scene and they need you to help them out by moving out of the lane of traffic so they can get by. You must yield to the emergency vehicle, so pull to the road shoulder if possible. If you are in an intersection and in the middle lane and pulling to the road shoulder is not an option, then stop, and allow the fire truck to pass you on the right or left. Keep your foot on the brake pedal so that your brake lights are lit because this may give the driver of the fire truck an indication that you are aware that they are behind you. Take steps to avoid being the story that the fire fighters will tell back at the station about the car that cut them off or blocked their way when they were trying to get to a fire.

Every fire fighter has a story about a structure fire. Some stories involve leaving a hot pan on the stove too long. Some stories tell tales of people who carelessly used a space heater by placing it too close to a chair or curtains. And some stories, the most heartbreaking ones, involve those persons who could’ve been saved if only they had a working smoke detector in their home. These simple little devices cost less than twenty dollars and can save your life by alerting you to a fire. Once you have smoke detectors you need to be sure to change the batteries in them so they will continue to work correctly. A good rule of thumb is to change the battery when you change your clock in the spring and fall. If you didn’t change your smoke detector battery last weekend, then stop reading this and change out the batteries in the smoke detectors in your home.

Every firefighter has a story about arriving just in time to save someone. It may be pulling a person out of a burning building, but most of the time it is about being there as a medical first responder or rescuing a victim trapped in a crushed car. What if it was your grandpa in the burning building, your child who stopped breathing, or your mom trapped in the car? How much would you pay to save them? How much would you pay to make sure that there was team of highly trained professionals with the right equipment ready to come at a moment’s notice to help grandpa, your child, or mom? That’s what your tax dollars are for. We work hard to pinch every penny but we all need to work together to fund emergency services so that the firefighter’s story doesn’t include a tale associated with the loss of life due to lack of training or equipment failure.

As the weather gets colder our Department of Public Safety experiences an increase in call volumes associated with fires. This winter please take the steps needed to make sure you are never playing a leading role in a firefighter’s story.

Ladder 1 is a "quint". It is designed to do the work of two trucks by providing a ladder for working on tall buildings and also providing pumping capcaity to fight any size fire. Purchasing a "quint" is a cost effective way to get additional fire fighting capability for our commuity. A federal grant paid a portion of the cost, saving the city over $300,000 of the cost of this vehicle.


Public Safety personnel at the scene of a residential apartment fire casued by a cooking stove.