Sometimes it can be a good thing if a firefighter comes to your house.
Every Saturday from now until November, Fairfax County firefighters will canvas neighborhoods, going door-to-door to inspect smoke detectors and fire extinguishers and provide fire safety tips in an effort to prevent potential tragedies.
If your home doesn’t have a working smoke detector, firefighters will provide and install one free of charge. If it works fine but just needs new batteries, they will provide those as well.
“Our first priority is preventing 911 calls,” said Fairfax County Fire Chief Richard Bowers during the program’s kickoff on June 7. Bowers recently succeeded former Fire Chief Ronald L. Mastin, who retired May 7.
“Secondly, we like reaching out to the community. We’d much rather meet this way than during a fire,” Bowers said.
Utilizing all 37 Fire & Rescue stations in the department, Bowers said the “Safety in our Community” program’s ultimate goal is to knock on every residential door in Fairfax County.
“We have about 350 personnel that will be door-knocking,” said A-Shift Deputy Chief Robert J. Zoldos II, who was promoted to Deputy Chief on May 4. “Personnel not responding to emergencies will be out every Saturday, knocking on doors until about Thanksgiving,” said Zoldos.
The department has come up with a red door-hanger that firefighters will leave on the front doors of houses and apartmentsif no one is home. The door-hanger provides fire safety tips and a phone number that residents can call if they would like firefighters to return at a later date.
“This program saves lives and, with the help of our corporate sponsors like Nationwide Credit Corporation, Apple Federal Credit Union and Liberty Mutual Insurance, it is a no cost-initiative,” said Bowers. “It does not cost taxpayers a dime.”
Firefighters say homeowners should have at least one smoke detector per floor of their home and say that while checking residential smoke detectors, they often also come across other potential fire hazards that homeowners may not even be aware of.
“We see overloaded electrical outlets, barbeque grills too close to walls and other flammable objects, and a variety of other potential hazards,” said firefighter Smith T. Banks II, a veteran of the door-knocking program.
“This program is a great hands-on approach to fire safety,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova. “As an elected official I know a little something about knocking on doors myself.”