On any given day in the United States, the role of a fire department can change.
Usually these changes are based on the needs of the community. The Whitehall Division of Fire is no different.
In 1949, a group of Whitehall residents expressed an interest in forming a fire department. By May 1951, the interest had grown, and the Whitehall Civic Club purchased and donated a 1931 Seagrave fire engine, with Whitehall City Council officially creating a volunteer fire department in June.
By 1962, the Whitehall Division of Fire began operating out of the city's general fund.
Soon, the division of fire established a fire prevention bureau with the ability to enforce city, state and national fire codes. Addressing the needs of the city, the bureau worked to reduce the risk of fires, educate the public and make workplaces safer.
The Whitehall Division of Fire, since its inception, has been responsive to the needs of the community.
Recently, the division adopted a community risk reduction model for the fire prevention bureau. The purpose of community risk reduction is to reduce the burden of fire incidents, emergency medical incidents and property loss for residents.
Community risk reduction activities involve an all-hazards approach to public safety. By using data collected from emergency responses, trends can be identified and prevention efforts can be tailored to specific incident types.
The division's response to overdoses is an example of how we used the data to identify and confirm a problem area.
Once identified, we crafted a plan to help with drug addiction and recovery. This plan includes screening and transporting complex cases of those in addiction to detox, plus distribution of Naloxone and Fentanyl test strips at public events and at the fire station.
With more than a year and a half of data collected, we can see we have made a significant impact in reducing overdoses and overdose deaths.
Community risk reduction is a long-term endeavor. As we analyze data, new areas of concern may emerge, and we must remain nimble and open-minded enough to adapt our plan.
Most importantly, we must provide for the needs of the community.
In the interest of community risk reduction, the Whitehall Division of Fire will participate in the National Fire Protection Association's Fire Prevention Week. This week, Oct. 6-12, the division of fire is conducting home fire safety inspections; if interested, call the fire department at 614-237-5478 during business hours and ask to schedule an inspection.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, we will hold an open house at the fire station, 390 S. Yearling Road, with the fire safety trailer, firehouse tours and other activities.
We also have smoke detectors available for those who need them.
Preston Moore is chief of the Whitehall Division of Fire.