ENGLEWOOD — The Englewood Area Fire Control District received the Congressional Safety Awareness Campaign Award from Congressman Vern Buchanan Monday for its smoke alarm detection program.
Englewood was one of five recipients in the inaugural 13th Congressional District Fire & Rescue and EMS Awards.
‘It’s a great honor for Englewood,’ said Englewood Fire Department Chief Brian Gorski. ‘It’s a great honor for the firefighters and the citizens to be recognized for that program.’
The program started due to three separate residential fires in Englewood that resulted in three fatalities from Jan. 2010 to mid-2011. The common thread was the lack of smoke detectors in each residence.
‘Having one fatality is bad, but when you have three in such a close time span, that’s pretty bad,’ Gorski said. ‘So we started looking into these, our gut was telling us that there were probably a lot of residents here in Englewood who did not have smoke alarms.’
The fire district launched a massive public education campaign to educate residents on the importance of smoke detectors, partnering with multiple businesses and groups including Englewood Home Depot, Kidde Smoke Alarms and First Baptist Church of Englewood, which gave money to buy smoke alarms.
Going door-to-door in areas that actually had the residential fires, district staff handed out safety materials and messages about the importance of smoke alarms, ‘and if they didn’t have any, call us,’ Gorski said.
The fire department installed 56 free smoke detectors within the first week of the program. There are now 100 homes in the program.
‘So what we’re trying to do is to give that first line of protection to people then install the detectors in the best location in their homes,’ said Ron Davison, vice chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners. ‘At least, give them a basic system for fire protection.’ All the smoke detectors installed are battery-operated.
Smoke alarms, save lives, Gorski said. ‘We feel that this program has a tremendous and will have a tremendous impact on the safety of the residents here in Englewood. You know, to be recognized — it was great.’
About 20 Englewood officers and firefighters attended the ceremony.
Other award recipients included: Lt. Tim Geer of the City of Bradenton Fire Department who received the Congressional Career Service Award; Training Officer Timothy J. Hyden of the East Manatee Fire Rescue District who received the Congressional Career Service Award; Capt. Tom Sousa of West Manatee Fire & Rescue who received the Congressional Career Service Award and Firefighter Deborah Ann Schuster of the Sarasota County Fire Department who received the Service Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award.