When it comes to fire, every second can make a difference.
This became the focus for the Tinley Park Fire Department and Tinley Park Fire Protection Bureau’s open house held Oct. 7 ahead of the Village’s commemoration of Fire Prevention Week.
This year’s event was themed “Every second counts: Plan two ways out,” and it worked to educate the public and familiarize people with fire prevention methods and the function of the fire department.
“The goal is whoever does come they get an experience that they learn something that they can take with them,” Riordan said.
During the open house, people took part in fire department 101 class, fire safety drills, the junior firefighter challenge and free training on hands-only CPR.
Riordan said the fire department sees strong value in hosting the open house to educate on various topics in fire safety and the work of firefighters.
There are measures that people commonly fail to take to protect themselves from the threat of fire.
“The big thing from a homeowner [standpoint] is making sure you have a working smoke detector,” Riordan said. “We try to emphasize that.”
The batteries in a smoke detector at most homes need to be replaced at least twice a year to ensure they remain in operation. The alarm, itself, requires monthly testing.
“Smoke detectors are only good for 10 years,” Riordan said. “[People] don’t understand that.”
The event’s organizers tested the public’s knowledge of fire safety and how the fire department operates by administering a quiz. Upon completion, attendees received a free carbon monoxide protector.
Most fire departments have evolved over the years in terms of what is demanded of its staff members. Their mission, however, remains the same.
“The mission of the department basically is we need to prevent a fire from happening or we want prevent accidents, and when we can’t prevent them, we want to mitigate them,” Riordan said. “We want to be able to mitigate, [and we] want to be able to resolve it with no loss of life and minimal damage.”
Most fire departments have noted a decline in the number of fires they need to extinguish over the years.
“We’ve had such strong fire prevention messages to where we’re looking at other perils—accidents, technical rescue,” Riordan said. “We do fire investigations. We expand our services to help as needed. So, we would go and evaluate what the exposures are.”
That does not mean that fires do not occur.
“Our big exposure to fire is in the home,” Riordan said. “We want to make sure that the homeowner understands fire safety.”
The Village of Tinley Park is home to more than 20,000 residential units.
“When you talk about how are we handling it or what we’re doing different, it’s not only structure fires, we’re assisting our medical crews, we’re out with the accidents, and [we’re] trying to make sure that we can make people more safe,” Riordan said.
Other expanding needs for the fire department is in the age of community.
“We got to be able to understand what we can expect,” Riordan said. “Is there a bigger role with medical? Yes—we contract our [emergency medical services] where we have five ambulances in town throughout the course of a week, 24 hours, 365 days. We got to be able to respond.”
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