The Merrill Fire Department was recently presented with a Life Safety Achievement Award for its fire prevention accomplishments in 2015 by the National Association of State Fire Marshalls (NASFM) Fire and Research and Education Foundation in partnership with Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company. The Award was announced by H. Butch Browning, President of the NASMF Fire Research and Education Foundation.
“When we hear the fire truck coming down the street and see the lights, we know firefighters are responding to someone in trouble. What we don’t know is that these unsung heroes are doing a lot of things behind the scenes that saves lives,” said David Miller, Assistant Vice President of Special Investigations at Grinnell Mutual. “The Life Safety Achievement Award recognizes fire departments for their fire prevention programs that have been proven to save lives year after year.”
Since 1994, the Life Safety Achievement Award has recognized local fire prevention efforts that have contributed to reducing the number of lives lost in residential fires. The Merrill Fire Department is one of 160 fire departments across the United States to receive the award this year. The MFD has documented an active and effective fire prevention program as well as a clear commitment to reducing the number of house fires in the community.
Although residential fires in the U.S. account for only 20 percent of all fires, they result in 80 percent of all fire deaths. The Merrill Fire Department and the NASFM Fire Research and Education Foundation are committed to reducing that number.
“Experience tells us that fire prevention activities and public education can significantly reduce life and property loss from residential fires,” Browning said. “Prevention and Education are very cost effective compared to a traditional approach of relying on fire suppression. The Life Safety Achievement Award recognizes fire departments for their fire prevention efforts and encourages them to continually improve those efforts.”
“It is an honor to be selected as one of 160 fire departments in the nation to receive this Life Safety Achievement Award. This award shows that the Merrill Fire Department along with the community support and cooperation continues working towards our goal of keeping Merrill and the surrounding areas safer through preventing fire related hazards and improve life safety,” Fire Chief Dave Savone remarked.
About Merrill Fire Department Fire Prevention Programs
The Fire Prevention Bureau of the Merrill Fire Department (MFD) strives to reduce the loss of life and property by fire through code enforcement, inspections and public education. In the past year most of Merrill Fire’s 23 person staff became certified at the Fire Inspector 1 level in the State of Wisconsin. Education and certification for fire inspectors is extensive. Fire personnel needed to successfully complete the Wisconsin State Fire Inspectors Training Program, as well as a comprehensive competency examination for certification.
The inspection division conducts regular fire and life safety inspections of existing commercial, institutional and multifamily residential buildings. During an inspection, the inspector, usually accompanied by the owner or his representative, will check for such things as electrical or heating system problems, improperly stored combustibles and flammable liquids, blocked exits, and other hazards. The inspector also checks to make sure that emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, fire alarm systems and fire sprinkler systems have been regularly and properly tested to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standards. These buildings are inspected twice annually.
Merrill’s state certified inspectors perform more than 1,000 inspections annually within the businesses in the city of Merrill (7.8 sq. miles), along with the three townships in the MFD fire response area: Scott (30.7 sq. miles), Merrill (53.4 sq. miles) and Rock Falls (49.2 sq. miles), encompassing over 140 square miles in all. They do this in an effort to assist business owners in eliminating hazards and maintaining a safe workplace. The inspection division is responsible for enforcing city council adopted codes and ordinances, follow-up on citizen complaints in regards to possible hazards and maintaining fire inspection records for business in the fire district.
The Public Education Division is responsible for developing and distributing public education programs and information to various target audiences. The goal of the MFD Public Education Division is that all of our citizens, from preschoolers to senior citizens will learn to take action in case of fire or life safety emergencies. We have a number of programs and tools to accomplish this goal; School Programs, (Pre-K to 4th Grade), Senior/Elderly Fire Safety Talks, Home Fire Safety Checks, Smoke alarm install program (free to those in need), fire extinguisher classes, CPR/First Aid Classes, Community Night Out program, Safety Day Camp, and Children’s Festival.