By Peg McRoy
October is fire-prevention month and Hendricks County (HC) firefighters are trained and ready to filter into their communities to bring fire-safety knowledge to the people they serve.
“We work to save lives and property,” said Brownsburg Fire Territory Battalion Chief Thad Dolzall. “Nothing has a better effect on those two things than fire-prevention.”
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has specifically targeted the week of Oct. 8-14, with an emphasis on cooking safety, as fire prevention week.
“We are going to focus on fire prevention all month long,” said Nina Powell, Brownsburg Fire Territory public education manager and public information officer. “Nationwide, statistics show that fire victims are usually young children and older adults. We will be reaching out specifically to those segments of the population.”
The fire departments in the western townships of the county, most of which are crewed by volunteer firefighters, are currently being given sizable financial boosts thanks to the HC Council and HC Commissioners.
HC had a surplus of local option income tax funds (L.O.I.T.). The council and the commission penned a resolution to provide a one-time grant to the fire departments that serve the western townships of HC.
“We wanted to figure out a way to pass these funds to the fire departments in the townships that needed it most,” said David Cox, a member of the Hendricks County Board of Commissioners. “It started with the council and the commissioners came right on board. We especially wanted to help the volunteer departments and ambulance service on that side of the County.”
One of the recipients of this grant money is the Lizton Union Township Fire Department, crewed completely with volunteer firefighters.
Nathan Miller and Cameron Chapman are certified through the Ben Davis Area 31 Career Center Fire Sciences Program. Miller is a 2023 Avon High School graduate certified in firefighting. Chapman graduated from Brownsburg High School five years ago and is certified as an EMT and firefighter. Both are volunteer firefighters at Lizton.
“We have struggled financially in the past. This money we have been granted is substantial,” said Austin Miller, Nathan’s brother and also a volunteer firefighter and EMT at Lizton. “We have a couple of different plans. We have been talking about getting a new ambulance and water tanker.”
A tanker is a truck that supplies water at a fire scene. In rural areas there aren’t any fire hydrants. A supply of water needs to be trucked in to fight a fire and a tanker serves that purpose.
“We currently have a 1500-gallon tanker truck,” said Austin. “We are looking at getting a 2,000-to-3,000-gallon truck. It would make a big difference.”
Austin said in addition to the HC grant, they are now getting more money from the township.
“We just purchased extrication tools to cut up cars (in the event of an accident),” said Miller. “It was a big purchase and this money (from HC) will help us get more new equipment.”
Keeping a keen eye on national statistics that cite young children as a segment of the population most at risk, the Plainfield Fire Territory is planning to go directly into schools.
“The school programs are geared to elementary aged kids (2nd and 3rd grade) and are designed to give early education in home fire safety, including two ways out of your house, having a meeting place, crawl low in smoke, get out and stay out (of your house),” said Wade C. Stevens, fire marshal and division chief with the Plainfield Fire Territory. “We will, of course, let the kids look at the trucks, equipment, and tell them not to be afraid of firefighters in their gear.”
On the last Friday in Sept., Brownsburg firefighters gathered in their headquarters to review information and repeat interactive training on the installation of smoke alarms. They offer a free smoke alarm program in Oct., in addition to their school visits.
“Any training that we give the crews is invaluable,” said Captain Justin Butts, Brownsburg health safety officer. “Anytime there is a formal aspect to training it better serves the public.”
Every smoke alarm has specific installation guidelines and firefighters need to know how to implement those guidelines.
“It is really important that we provide training to our firefighters to make sure they have updated information for smoke alarms,” said Jeff Schlageter, Brownsburg Deputy Fire Marshal. “We look forward to going out into the community and want to make sure the people we serve have that information.”
The Brownsburg fire alarm program is geared specifically for older adults.
“Alarms can be installed free of charge as long as supplies last,” said Powell. “In some cases, a person buys a smoke alarm but can’t get on a ladder without risking injury. We don’t want anyone to fall off a ladder. We would rather assist with a smoke alarm installation than an injury.”
The townships in HC include Brown, Center, Clay, Eel River, Franklin, Guilford, Liberty, Lincoln, Marion, Middle, Union, and Washington. To get information on fire prevention programs that may be offered in HC townships check their respective websites.
The Hendricks County Commissioner and the Hendricks County Council granted the following amounts to fire and E.M.S departments located in the eastern townships of the county. These are generally undesignated funds that can be used for various budget line items such as public safety equipment, programs, salaries, and benefits.
Union Township $167,645
Clay Township $166,473
Liberty Township $154,531
Eel River Township $109,273
Franklin Township $60,132
Marion Township $8,834
Fire Prevention Week: Cooking Safety Starts with YOU!*
Fire prevention week is Oct. 8-14. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has established “Cooking Safety Starts with YOU” as this year’s theme. The goal is to educate the public on the importance of practicing simple but important steps in keeping themselves and those around them safe while cooking. NFPA states that 49% of all home fires are centered around cooking and it is the leading cause of home fire injuries. The leading cause of cooking fires and related deaths can be attributed to unattended cooking.
- Keep a kid-free zone that is at least three feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared.
- Be alert. Don’t cook when sleepy or under the influence.
- Do not leave items cooking on the stove top unattended.
- When simmering, baking, or roasting do not leave the home and set a timer.
- Keep anything that can catch fire away from the stovetop.
- To put out a small grease fire smother the flame by sliding a lid over it and turning off the burner.
- To put out an oven fire keep the oven door closed and turn off the heat.
- If you are not sure what to do just get out, close the door behind you, and call 911 from outside the house.
*The source of the above information is the NFPA’s website.