It is with great pride that we report the career and volunteer personnel from the Capitol Heights Fire Station #5 have completed their Door-to-Door Fire Safety Campaign.
In the first quarter of 2004, Prince George’s County experienced a sharp increase in the rate of fire deaths as compared to previous years. Fire deaths in the communities immediately surrounding our first response area remain high. To address this issue, the career and volunteer personnel from the Capitol Heights fire station embarked on an unprecedented effort to get fire safety information out to the citizens of the Town of Capitol Heights and the surrounding communities in our first due response area. This effort started in March 2004 before the statewide efforts to address the rate of fire deaths began.
A plan was developed to go door-to-door to every business and residence in our first due response area by the end of 2005, handing out fire safety information and offering to check smoke alarms. This plan was proactive, rather than reactive. Batteries were replaced and new smoke detectors were installed where needed at no cost to the resident. If residents were not home, we left fire prevention and safety information materials in their doors. On December 31, 2005 the station achieved this goal by completing the last remaining residences on Larchmont Avenue.
During this project a special fire prevention program was developed for the residents of 505 Suffolk Avenue, a senior citizen facility next to the fire station. It was presented on November 29, 2005 with nearly 45 residents present. The presentation was geared to their specific needs.
The cost of this project was minimal. Free fire safety literature was obtained from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), customized seasonal literature was designed by in-house staff and copied, smoke detectors were obtained through the Prince George’s County Fire and EMS Department and the station purchased spare batteries from operating funds.
The in-house fire safety literature was designed by Volunteer Fire Marshal Jennifer McClelland and was geared to particular holidays and seasons. During the winter months the literature focused on space heater and fireplace safety. A special flyer was developed for the winter holiday season, giving information on decorations and lighting. The spring time flyer focused on cleaning around the house, reducing the fire load and keeping exit paths clear. The summer time flyer focused on heat related emergencies and use of candles during power outages. All of these flyers can be found in the Safety Zone of our website at www.chvfd.org/safety.
In addition, to spreading the message about fire safety, the door-to-door campaign gave us an opportunity to interact with the citizens we serve, helped career and volunteer staff learn all first due areas and opened the door for recruitment opportunities.
This project has helped reinforce that fire prevention and safety are not something that we do every October as part of National Fire Prevention Week. It is a year round effort and is just as important as fire suppression and emergency medical services. This project has had a direct impact on County Executive Jack B. Johnson’s Livable Communities Initiatives by improving the quality of life of our citizens and helping to provide a fire safe community.
James McClelland, Sr.
Robert E. McClelland, Sr.
Robert E. McClelland, Jr.