Help the Fire Department: Clear Your Hydrant

3-feet-hydrantThere are more than 4,000 fire hydrants across the City of Eden Prairie. Each blanket of snow means Eden Prairie residents spend time shoveling driveways and sidewalks, but what about those hydrants?

Fire spreads fast, and seconds matter. The few minutes it takes to shovel out a hydrant could mean the difference between a fire being contained in a room or spreading throughout the house.

The Fire Department is asking for your help — adopt a hydrant. Please take a few minutes to shovel out the hydrants near your home or ask someone to assist you if you aren’t able. Even if the hydrant isn’t in your yard, it’s still protecting your home; make sure it’s clear so firefighters can perform their jobs quickly in the event of a fire emergency.

Holiday Home Fire Safety

Eden Prairie House FireIn early November, Eden Prairie firefighters responded to a residential house fire that caused thousands of dollars in damage, and injured the homeowner and a firefighter.

The fire started with an incense log left burning on a desktop. Luckily, working smoke alarms alerted the residents to the fire and they were able to exit the home safely. The first fire engine arrived on the scene in less than five minutes. In that time, the fire had grown significantly and consumed an entire bedroom.

While unattended cooking still remains the leading cause of fires in Minnesota, the Eden Prairie Fire Department is reminding residents about fire risks with unattended burning materials. The holidays are upon us and historically, the use of candles and other open flame devices rises in the winter months. While technology has allowed us to use battery-operated candles as a safe alternative, some believe that nothing beats the smell of a traditional burning candle. This, along with an increase in combustible materials (decorations) in your home creates the perfect storm for a fire to quickly spread out of control.

To prepare for a safe home this holiday season, check your smoke alarms, have an escape plan and consider using flameless candles. If you choose to use traditional candles, place them on a hard, noncombustible surface, such as a glass plate, and extinguish them before leaving the room. Also, remember that heat rises and items located directly above candles or other open flame devices can conduct heat and begin to burn.

Click here for more fire facts and tips from the State Fire Marshal website.

Happy holidays, and stay safe!

Change Your Clock – Change Your Batteries

smoke-315874_1280It’s time to “fall back” and replace your smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries!

At 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, clocks will be turned back one hour and we’ll officially be on Central Standard Time. The Eden Prairie Fire Department encourages residents to take a few minutes out of that extra hour on Sunday to think about your home and the safety of your family, and take action by replacing the batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms throughout your home. Batteries for hardwired alarms should also be replaced; they serve as a backup in case the power goes out.

Properly installed and maintained smoke alarms save lives and protect against injury and loss due to fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the fire death rate in homes with working smoke alarms is 51-percent less than the rate for homes without this protection.

After fires, when investigators note whether smoke alarms were present and operating during the fire, 71 percent of the alarms that failed to operate had missing, disconnected or dead batteries. This is why it’s so important to take this time each year to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Click here for more home fire safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association.

Firefighter Recruit Open House

Eden Prairie Fire Department HelmetBeing a volunteer firefighter is not about what you look like, what degree you earned or where you come from. It is about one thing: heart. Seven out of 10 firefighters and emergency responders are volunteers. If you have the heart to serve your community, you have everything we need.

We are hosting a recruitment open house Wednesday, March 16, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Fire Station 1 to kick off the 2016 recruitment process. Here you can learn more about how our department and our duty crew system work directly from others just like you – students, teachers, technicians, lawyers, full-time parents and business executives. Find out if this opportunity is for you!

The Eden Prairie Fire Department is comprised of four fire stations and a staff of 95 duty crew firefighters, in addition to nine full-time firefighters. As a duty crew firefighter you have the ability to control your schedule with shifts that meet your lifestyle and career, all while giving a little something back to the community in which you live.

Being a duty crew firefighter is about a lot more than just putting out fires. It’s an opportunity to learn cutting edge skills that prepare you to join others from in and around Eden Prairie to help members of your community lead safer lives and get aid when they need it most.

We hope to see you there!

The End of an Era

Eden Prairie Firefighter Chuck SchaitbergerFire Inspector Chuck Schaitberger is retiring Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, and will officially sign off at 3:30 p.m. Chuck has served in the roles of firefighter, lieutenant, assistant chief and fire inspector throughout his 42 years with the Eden Prairie Fire Department.

Each firefighter has a badge number when they are sworn into service. Chuck wears badge number 20. When we sign in our newest recruits in June they will receive badges 327-339. This speaks volumes about Chuck’s legacy within the Fire Department and the number of firefighters he has mentored throughout his career.

Chuck joined the Fire Department as a paid-on-call firefighter Nov. 11, 1973. He started working for the City of Eden Prairie full time in December 1984, while maintaining his volunteer position on the Fire Department. He worked as an animal control officer from 1984 to 1985 and in the Public Works Department in 1986 and 1987. Chuck moved to a full time position with the Fire Department in 1987 as our first fire inspector, and has continuously served in that role since.

As fire inspector, Chuck has worked as fire safety public educator, fire investigator and development plan reviewer, along with his role as a firefighter and EMT. He has worked with countless government and private organizations who serve our community through social services, providing a fire safe environment and needed resources to all who live in Eden Prairie.

Chuck helped establish the nationally recognized Safety Camp program in 1989 and has participated in each of the 26 years since its inception (read more about Chuck’s contributions to Safety Camp here). He taught fire safety to three generations of Eden Prairie students, including some of our current firefighters. He has working knowledge of nearly every building in the City from his 29 years of building plan reviews and fire safety inspections. His dedication to customer service and educating business owners and residents about keeping their properties fire safe is the reason that Eden Prairie has a remarkably low fire rate.

In his retirement, Chuck has plans to get some projects done at home and spend time volunteering at a nearby hospital.

Thank you Chuck, you will be missed!