October: Fire Prevention Week
The leaves are changing, the kids are back to school, and Anne Arundel County Citizens are getting back into a solid routine at home. This focus on family and home makes the second week of October a natural fit for Fire Prevention Week.
We all know to check our smoke detector batteries during Daylight Savings, to rake up leaves and other yard waste, and take other Fire Prevention actions to protect our families and our property during this time of year. But what if the worst happens - what if you do have a fire at your home in Anne Arundel County?
Anne Arundel County residents have a sense of security that should the worst happen, our call to first responders would result in abundant resources rushing to aid our family. But is this a false sense of security in our County?
Several neighborhoods in our County do not have access to adequate public safety staffing resulting in TWO OR LESS fire fighters riding out on the fire engine or ladder truck to protect your family and property. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) recommends 4 fire fighters responding on the first truck (NFPA 1710).
Why are our first responding units staffed at half the national standard? What can these inadequately staffed units reasonably be expected to accomplish when they arrive at your family’s home? What additional dangers are the half-staffed fire fighter team exposed to while protecting your family and home? These are all questions that most Anne Arundel County citizens never ask ourselves.
We assume our tax dollars provide us with a strong safety net protecting our family, our home, and our property. In exchange for our tax dollars, investment of personal resources to protect our homes, and having a family emergency plan, we expect that a call to 911 will result in an adequately staffed team of first responders imminently arriving to protect our family and home. And we most certainly expect our fire fighters are staffed at a level to mitigate risk and protect their health and safety.
South County and North County (Ferndale, Glen Burnie, and Pasadena) tax payers are much more likely to have half of the recommended number of professional fire fighters responding to your call.
In South County, all stations have 2 fire fighters on duty at any given time to be dispatched to a fire emergency. Ferndale in North County has ZERO professional fire fighters to dispatch in the event of a fire emergency. What does this mean? If you live in Deale and call 911 to report a house fire, you will have 2 fire fighters arriving. Once they arrive, they can assess the situation and call in other available resources to help. This means the two-person crew from the neighboring station must be dispatched to the Deale area. If you’re the second phone call in Deale for another emergency, it will take that much longer for a crew to reach your emergency. This is a scary thought for our citizens, and one we as tax payers don’t ever really research to this detail. After the two fires in South County a few weekends back, where Good Samaritans had to literally pick up the slack for the short staffed professional fire fighters, more County residents became aware of this extremely important issue.
While we busy ourselves preparing our families and homes for the winter ahead, we must also be mindful of supporting our fire fighters and urging our elected officials to address this most important issue affecting the safety of our fire fighters, our families, our homes, and our businesses. We all hope to never have to call 911 for an emergency, but who – and how many? - will show up to answer your call?