Fire Department Launches New Safety Initiatives
The new and expanded programs are designed to increase fire safety awareness and working smoke detectors in homes.
Following a recent spate of fires and fire related fatalities in Prince George’s County, the fire department is launching and improving upon several programs designed to increase fire safety awareness.
“We are here to talk about community resilience,” said Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor in a press conference Friday.
The press conference was held at the Northview Fire Station in Bowie. The city has seen an unusual spike in house fires in the past several months, with 16 reported since May 2012, the majority of which have been accidental.
Another recent accidental fire on Leslie Avenue in Glenarden claimed the lives of three children and their father. The fire was determined to be accidental and fire investigators discovered there were no working smoke detectors in the home. The one child that survived this fire, an 11-year-old girl, told fire fighters that the fire safety escape plan she made in school is the reason she was able to get out of her home with only minor injuries.
After hearing this story, PGFD is launching Elementary Planning to Get Out Alive, is being launched to increase fire safety awareness in children. All school children will be challenged to develop escape plans for their own homes. The plans will be entered into a contest and kids will have the opportunity to win a variety of prizes.
A second new program, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, is designed to increase the use of smoke detectors in homes.
As part of this new program, starting March 1, on all calls PGFD fire fighters will check any home they enter for working detectors. If detectors are not located or are not working, PGFD will return to the homes and install working units within 24 hours.
Residents were also asked to go home and check their own detectors and the detectors in their neighbors' homes to increase use and neighborhood safety.
PGFD are also launching a Safety First Week of the Month leading up to the spring forward/fall back season to help remind people to change the batteries in their detectors and get new detectors if the ones they have are 10 years or older.
Each fire station will also be expected to visit two schools, nursing homes or other community centers to raise awareness about the use of smoke detectors.
The Safety First Day of the Month program is also being expanded to include door-to-door visits from fire fighters from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the first day of each month. With homeowner approval, fire fighters will conduct home inspections of no more than 15 minutes to determine fire hazards and check for working detectors.
Fire stations will also hold open houses in the evenings on the first day of each month.
“One at a time, we will make a difference—we will save lives,” Bashoor said.