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E’town Fire begins Community Risk Reduction effort

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By: Erin Smith

reflective address markerThe Elizabethtown Fire Department has a new service they are offering the community called Community Risk Reduction. Chief Nick West said the fire station is taking a proactive stance in attempting to reduce and prevent injuries and fires.

He said the program has three components: fire prevention, fire investigation and fire inspections.

Chief West said that some of the things the firefighters will be doing are going out into the community and talking with children about fire safety and performing home safety inspections for residents. He said the main goal is to have a truck in the district every day checking on different communities. Chief West said the fire station is attempting to reach out to the community.

“One problem we find are house numbers are not visible from the street. If we have to search for house numbers, it takes more time (to respond). We want to be proactive and make sure house numbers are properly displayed, they are the correct size, and not covered up (with brush or shrubbery),” said Chief West.

He said there are two different types of signs a person can use to display their house number — one is vertical and the other is horizontal. The numbers should be a minimum of three inches tall but Chief West said for inches tall is a good height.

“The time to realize your house number is not displayed is not when there is an emergency,” said Chief West.

Another project of the Community Risk Reduction initiative is home safety inspections. Chief West said the home safety inspection is similar to what the fire department does when they inspect a business. He said when a homeowner requests a safety inspection they will check for smoke detectors and check for electrical hazards.

The Community Risk Reduction initiative also includes a fire investigation component. Chief West said that the fire department is required to determine a cause of a fire. He said the department will have one assistant chief who will become certified in investigations and perform cause determination and evidence collection. Chief West said they will also be working with state and county officials.

The fire inspections will focus on code enforcement issues such as electrical hazards and are done on an annual basis. Chief West said that the department will also be gathering information such as the layout of the interior of the building, where emergency exits are located, where power shut offs are located, where the water shut off is located, where the gas shut off is located, and such. He said this type of knowledge can help the department in the event of a fire or other emergency situation.

He said the fire inspection will involve making sure that access to the business’ sprinkler systems are not blocked and Chief West said the department will also be educating business owners about knox boxes. He said these boxes are a secure way that a business can have a key that is accessible to the fire department in the event of an emergency. Chief West said the key to access the knox box is housed with the fire department.

Chief West said the knox boxes save time and often prevent the department from having to break the glass out of a store front or destroy a door in order to gain access in the event of a fire.

“The goal is to educate business owners about these types of things and that they are important,” said Chief West.

Chief West also said that a crew will also be out hydrant testing. The purpose of hydrant testing is to ensure the hydrants are in proper working order.