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!

Happy Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving approaches, we tend to think about family gatherings and spend time reflecting on all we have to be thankful for. The Eden Prairie Fire Department would like you to take a few minutes to think about fire safety as well. Did you know that from 2011 to 2013, an estimated 2,100 residential building fires were reported in the United States on Thanksgiving Day? That’s two times more than any other average day of the year.

The top cause of home fires in Minnesota, and the nation, is cooking, with the primary reason being unattended cooking. With many people gathered in the home, it’s easy to become distracted. Another cause in the uptick on Thanksgiving Day is from the increased use of turkey fryers. Last year, Eden Prairie Fire responded to a structure fire that started from a turkey fryer. Please make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions and use your fryers appropriately; on a flat surface, at a safe distance away from your home.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind as you’re cooking this Thanksgiving:

  • Watch what you’re cooking
    • Use a timer when roasting a turkey or baking
    • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking – frying, broiling or boiling –  at high temperatures
  • Make your cooking area safe 
    • Move flammable objects away from the stove
    • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so they can’t be bumped
  • Be prepared
    • Keep a large pan lid or baking sheet handy in case you need to smother a pan fire
  • Stay awake and alert while you’re cooking
    • If you see smoke or grease starts to boil in your pan, turn off the burner
    • Do not add water to a grease fire; remember oil and water do not mix, it will cause the fire to increase in size
  • Prevent burns
    • Wear short sleeves, or roll them up, while cooking
    • Don’t lean over the burner
    • Use potholders and oven mitts to handle hot cookware
  • Keep a fire extinguisher between your stove and the kitchen exit
    • Having an extinguisher under the sink is not helpful in an emergency
    • Mount an extinguisher by the kitchen exit, so you can easily evacuate if the fire grows too large to use the extinguisher

More Thanksgiving safety tips are available on the NFPA website.

 

Rescue Pup

12226882_578718135609864_93980398_nThere are a few ways to get a new dog.  You can find a breeder, a pet shop, or you can go through a rescue.  Secondhand Hounds is a local 501(c)(3) animal rescue organization in Eden Prairie.

This weekend, a 911 call prompted a whole new meaning to rescue dog for the staff at Secondhand Hounds.  One of their dogs, Mister, ran off while going for a walk around Lake Smetana and ended up going for a swim in the frigid lake.  Secondhand staff were unable to coax him back to the shore, so they called for help.

dog rescue

The Eden Prairie Fire and Police Departments responded to the request for help on Saturday afternoon.  Firefighters donned ice rescue suits and made their way through the marshy brush surrounding Lake Smetana.

They found Mister hunkered down deep in the marsh near the water’s edge, unable to make his way back to shore.  Within a half hour, Mister was reunited with Secondhand staff.

Mister is a seven year old Shiba-Inu, who is available for adoption through Midwest Shiba-Inu Rescue.

For more information on Secondhand Hounds, please visit secondhandhounds.org.

 

Fire Department Open House

Fire Department Open House On Saturday, Oct. 10, during Fire Prevention Week, the Eden Prairie Fire Department is hosting its annual open house.

We have held our open house for over 30 years! It’s a great opportunity for the community to gather at the fire station and learn about home fire safety, personal safety, water safety, and ways to become involved in the community.

Representatives from our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the Civil Air Patrol will be on hand to answer questions. There will be two auto extrication demonstrations, so you can learn more about what firefighters do, and a kitchen fire simulator which will provide tips on how to prevent fires while cooking. There will also be many interactive booths to learn more about our Fire Department, pictures with Sparky, and you can sign up for CodeRed and home safety inspections. A new addition this year is the opportunity to learn Hands Only CPR, so you can be equipped to be a life saver.

For the past 10 years we’ve had other departments from the City of Eden Prairie join in on the fun. The Public Works Department will be bringing some large vehicles, including a snow plow and Zamboni. It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about the blind spots in these vehicles and for adults to ask questions about what our Public Works Department does for our community.

The Police Department will be participating in the open house as well, with a K-9 demonstration and tables with representatives from the SWAT team.

We look forward to seeing you at Fire Station 1 (14800 Scenic Heights Road) from 11 a.m-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10!

26 Years and Going Strong

A quintessential part of summer for most Minnesota kids is summer camp — and for 26 years Eden Prairie children have taken part in Safety Camp. Cities all over the state hold safety camps nowadays, but it started as the brainchild of Jim Clark (formerly of the Eden Prairie Police Department) who handed it off to Curt Oberlander (formerly of the Eden Prairie Police and Fire Departments). As Oberlander developed it, the mission of the first camp was to stop preventable injuries to kids. He said, “The main purpose was to get everyone to work together – police, fire and parks and rec. We’re all working for one common cause — to save lives.” Chuck Schaitberger Safety Camp

In 1989, Oberlander pulled together a group of City employees from police, fire and the Parks and Recreation Department, as well as other safety experts to plan and execute the first Safety Camp. One of the organizers was Fire Inspector Chuck Schaitberger, who has attended every Safety Camp since, making this year his 26th camp. He was recognized at the awards ceremony last week for his dedication to teaching the young people of Eden Prairie about how to prevent injuries and live safer lives.

Children entering 3rd grade are able to attend the two-day Safety Camp each year. There are six teams of up to 30 kids. The topics vary slightly from year to year, but include: fire safety, personal safety/stranger danger, bullying awareness and avoidance, water safety, dispatch/9-1-1, first aid, animal safety, electrical safety, bicycle safety, seatbelts/boosters/car seats, Internet safety, and weather safety.

The camps are planned and staffed by City employees. Sessions are taught by representatives from those departments or from outside speakers who specialize in specific hazards and can teach kids how to be safe when they encounter them.

Summer camp is a great venue to get kids excited about learning to stay safe — at the same time building important ties between the community, the children and their families. Eden Prairie’s Safety Camp will live on for generations to come.