You know that if you have an emergency, you call 911. You know that the local fire department will respond to your call if it’s about a fire and you might also be aware that they may respond to a medical emergency (in 2012, they responded to over 37,000 EMS calls!) But what else do you know about the local fire department? For many, it may come as a surprise that the Lexington Department of Fire and Emergency Services works continually to offer a variety of services to the local community that extend well beyond emergency response. For our local firefighters, it’s a heartfelt and essential part of the job they’ve committed to doing.
American Heart Association
One high-profile event that includes the LDFES is the American Heart Association Go Red for Women Luncheon. The fire fighters volunteer their time to take photos with attendees and offer educational information about fire safety. “Fire and EMS are so critical to the ‘Chain of Survival’ when a person goes into cardiac arrest. Calling 911 is the first step and those professionals getting there in a timely manner to perform their duties is off-the-chart important! They are critical to surviving a cardiac event,” explained Joey Maggard, Executive Director with the American Heart Association. Including the LDFES in the Go Red for Women event just made sense. “Anything we can do to increase awareness of calling 911 and starting CPR when a person goes into cardiac arrest is so important to both organizations.” In conjunction with the American Heart Association, the LDFES offers a Family & Friends® CPR Course. This course teaches lifesaving skills in adult, child and infant CPR in a dynamic group environment. According to the American Heart Association, when someone enters cardiac arrest—meaning the victim’s heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly—death can occur within minutes if they do not receive treatment. The first step should always be to call 911, then begin CPR with emphasis on chest compressions to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. Proper training in this life-saving technique can mean the difference between life and death.
Fire Prevention Education
In 2012, the Lexington Department of Fire and Emergency Services responded to over 8,700 fire calls. According to Lt. Keith Smith, the LDFES is seeking to make that number lower. While they perform routine building inspections, the key to lower the number of fire emergencies is a good offense. “We feel it’s better to prevent a fire than to put one out. That’s our goal,” Smith explained in a recent call with TOPS. The Lexington Department of Fire and Emergency Services has a slew of educational services that aim to help citizens of Fayette County be better aware of how to prevent fires from ever starting. Many people associate that sort of education with grade school demonstrations, like their Smoke House that illustrates the difficulty of escaping from a smoke-filled room. The LDFES is proud to speak to thousands of children each year. But they’re also hoping to bring their message to an older audience. “We’re not just for kids anymore!” Smith explained, “We’re focusing a lot on adult education.” Fire safety education doesn’t end with “don’t play with matches”. The Lexington Department of Fire and Emergency Services can help citizens plan safe home escapes in the event of an emergency, understand carbon monoxide dangers and even learn more about Thanksgiving meal cooking safety! Smith said that the Lexington Department of Fire and Emergency Services are happy to speak at local events, such as neighborhood association meetings or church groups. “We want to get the message out any way we can,” he said. “If you give us a call, we’ll try to accommodate you, if at all possible.” To schedule a member of the LDFES to speak at a group event, contact the Lexington Department of Fire and Emergency Services Community Services Bureau at 859.231.5668 or visit lexingtonky.gov/fire
Citizens Fire Academy
Interested in a hands-on educational experience, designed to teach citizens about the many jobs the Lexington Division of Fire and Emergency Services does? The Citizens Fire Academy may be for you! In classes taught by professional firefighters, citizens can learn about the science behind fires, the history of fire services, fire prevention and the emergency apparatuses and equipment, including their EMS response equipment and ambulances. The Citizens Fire Academy is open to anyone 18 or older who lives or works in Fayette County and has no prior felony convictions. Classes meet Monday evenings at 6pm-9:30pm for 10 weeks at the Fire Training Academy, 1375 Old Frankfort Pike. For anyone interested, contact Lt. Keith Smith at 859.231.5651. Car Seat Installation The Safe Kids Coalition estimates that 73% of child car seats are not used or installed correctly. For new parents, the sheer volume of information about child safety can be overwhelming and confusing. The LDFES and Safe Kids Coalition aim to help. The LDFES offers education on car seat installation to ensure that every parent is clear on how to properly ensure his or her children’s safety. The LDFES demonstrates proper car seat installation and trains parents on correct use of car seats. In addition, they can answer questions about what to do in the event of a vehicular fire emergency.
Support for Fire Victims
The tragedy of a home fire is almost unimaginable. For many victims, their homes are uninhabitable and they’ve lost many of their belongings, including items that are daily necessities. The LDFES and the American Red Cross work together to ensure that these victims aren’t left out in the cold. “We’ll try to make sure they have housing and meet their immediate needs,” Smith explained. Hotels often donate rooms and amenities to help, offering victims a place to rest, bathe and begin rebuilding their lives. It’s a small measure to offer comfort and hope to people who may have just lost everything.
The Lexington Department of Fire and Emergency Services organizes a number of fundraisers each year for local charities, and many crew members volunteer at other events to raise money for charity. The LDFES is involved each year with the Special Olympics Big Brown Truck pull. This year, The Lexington Fire and Friends team took first place in the event, helping to raise funds and awareness for this organization. In February, LDFES volunteers will participate in the organization’s Polar Plunge event, as well. The Lexington Firefighters Toy Program (formerly known as “Toys for Tots”) has helped children wake up to a very Merry Christmas morning for over 50 years. Each year beginning in November, they begin accepting donations of children’s toys. They then distribute those toys in the middle of December to Fayette . County residents. Anyone wishing to contribute to the program or who knows a family with children in need can contact the Fraternal Order of Firefighters at 859.523.9576 or visit lfdfof.org. The Lexington Department of Fire and Emergency Services is dedicated not only to saving the lives of Fayette County citizens, but to enriching them, as well. They work tirelessly to ensure the safety of Lexingtonians and volunteer their time to support important causes and organizations.