The first “Meet Your Firefighters” event was recently held at the Carefree Fire Station. Fire Chief John Kraetz, who gave the presentation, has been a Chief with Rural Metro Fire Department for 12 years. At the Carefree station, there are five firefighters on duty – three are assigned to the fire engine and two to the ambulance.
Fire protection in Carefree is structured differently than most municipalities. Most cities and towns either have their own equipment and firefighting personnel, contract with a company like Rural Metro to provide all the services, or property owners of the town individually contract with a provider for firefighting and emergency services. Carefree is a blended version. Over a decade ago, the Town built the fire station and bought its own fire truck and contracts with Rural Metro to have staff to man the fire engine. Even the fire station has another way it serves the area. The community room, where this event was held, is available for use by 501(c)3 non profits.
Firefighters do more than fight fires. Sometimes their calls may involve non-human residents, such as snake removals. Recently they rescued a bobcat kitten that had fallen down a chimney.
Preventive services are a big part of what they do. In the home they will provide safety inspections. It’s not just fire dangers that are sought out, they look for things like loose rugs that may be tripping hazards and other situations in the home that could cause injury. Of course they have tall enough ladders that they’ll be more than happy to use to change and test your smoke detector batteries.
Outside the house they can do wildland safety inspections. Firefighters will look at trees, shrubs and other factors that can affect whether a fire gets close to your home. Properly maintaining landscaping and gutters can go a long way to help keep your home from being damaged or destroyed in a wildfire.
Another service available in conjunction with Foothills Caring Corps is lockboxes for seniors. Those with mobility or health issues are especially urged to take advantage of this service. Chief Kraetz said, “We can break a door down in two seconds, but we’d prefer not to have to do that.”
One of the biggest challenges for firefighters is very poorly marked addresses. Sometimes it can be really tough for them to find house numbers or addresses. Make sure your address is easily seen. Are the numbers large enough? Have plants grown and now hide your address?
Do you have an emergency preparedness kit? A Go Bag? Most people don’t even know what they are or how important they can be. Chief Kraetz explained an emergency preparedness kit is something you have in the home should you need to or be forced to remain in your home for an extended period and perhaps not have any utilities. The kit should include drinking water, non-perishable food, first-aid kit, flashlights and other battery operated devices with extra batteries, hygiene items, childcare items and more.
A Go Bag, is something you have prepacked so you can just pick it up and leave if you need to evacuate. Its contents should include, in addition to water, food, flashlight and first-aid, copies of important documents, extra house and car keys, cash in small denominations, medications that the family takes, and a change of clothes to name a few.
More “Meet Your Firefighters” will be scheduled. Keep an eye out for them and take the time to attend one. If you have questions or want to learn more, call the Fire Department’s non-emergency number 480-488-0347.