By Charlotte J. Nash, Chairman
Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
One of the best parts of my job is getting to recognize county employees for doing terrific work. Last month, I had the pleasure of presenting our Department of Fire and Emergency Services with the American Red Cross Good Neighbor Award, which is given to organizations that build strong, safe, and vibrant neighborhoods and promote volunteerism. The department won for its fire safety education efforts and smoke alarm/fire safety blitzes in at-risk communities.
These programs are led by fire educators in the department’s community risk reduction section, great folks who are as knowledgeable about fire and life safety as they are passionate about helping residents. They have worked hard to develop relationships in the community and with other public safety organizations to build our safety education and community outreach programs. Some team members are multilingual, too, which helps us to reach even more residents with potentially life-saving messages like fire prevention, water safety and proper car seat installation.
Last year alone, fire personnel performed more than 14,000 fire and life safety inspections and delivered nearly 2,000 education programs. Volunteers contributed an additional 4,225 hours to our community initiatives, with federal grants making the distribution of free smoke alarms possible.
National Fire Prevention Week takes place the first week of October each year, but my fellow commissioners and I prefer to designate the entire month with a goal to remind every Gwinnett resident about the importance of fire prevention.
Our well-trained and dedicated firefighters are here when you need them, but as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. First, our fire professionals want to make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and in each bedroom. According to the National Fire Protection Association, this step alone can reduce the risk of dying in a home fire by half. Next, set aside time to practice home fire escape drills with your family. These simple actions will prepare you and your loved ones to survive a dangerous and potentially deadly situation.
The fire department will take part in more than 30 outreach events this month. A fun one for the entire family is a free open house hosted by Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services and the Rockdale and DeKalb County fire departments on October 17. You can expect activities like bounce houses for the kids, a cookout, car seat checks, plus a CPR overview. It’s from 10:00am to 2:00pm at the Stone Mountain Community Center, 5370 Stone Mountain Highway.
If you would like to schedule a fire educator to visit your group, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also help us expand our outreach efforts in the community by becoming a fire volunteer—look for upcoming safety education events and volunteer opportunities at www.volunteergwinnett.net.
Stay safe, everyone.