4 things your fire department does for you & 4 things you can do for your fire department
If you ask new arrivals to the community what made them choose Mt. Lebanon, you’re liable to get a variety of responses: walkable community, good mix of retail and dining options, a first-rate community magazine—but the answers you are likely to hear the most are the school district and public safety. The Mt. Lebanon Fire Department plays a big part in that equation.
Puts out fires. Yeah, that one’s kind of implied. The MLFD responds to approximately 1,800 calls and participates in more than 1,000 hours of community service each year. With a combined staff of 17 paid firefighters and 44 volunteers, allowing for round-the-clock in-house presence, an average response time of under two minutes, and equipment consisting of three engines, a truck, a heavy rescue vehicle, a mobile command unit, four squads and two staff vehicles, you’re definitely in a good place if something unthinkable happens.
Keeps fires from starting. While we’re thankful that that number is as low as it is, you could argue that a major reason it’s that low is the department’s steady focus on fire safety. Beginning on the first day of kindergarten and progressing until graduation day, the MLFD’s Fire and Life Safety Program has something for everyone in every grade. The Fire and Life Safety Platoon is also available for fire safety inspections for your home or office, smoke detector installation and fireplace checks, all free of charge. The department has tips on cooking safety, outdoor fire safety and will train your employees in skills like using a fire extinguisher and coming up with an evacuation plan.
Lowers your insurance bill. Thanks to an exhaustive process that took several years, the MLFD holds the highest possible rating from the Insurance Services Office. We are one of only three departments in Pennsylvania, and one of only approximately 200 in the country, to have achieved this status.
Works with at-risk kids. According to the National Fire Protection Association, about 49,000 fires are started each year in the U.S. by children. The Mt. Lebanon Fire Department partners with Outreach Teen and Family Services to provide counseling and intervention for children who are drawn to playing with fire. Again, this service is free of charge.
Park smart. The streets aren’t getting any wider, but fire vehicles have been getting bigger. As you park your car on the street, try to envision what the scene would look like if an emergency vehicle eight or 10 feet wide had to negotiate the street. Park as close to the curb as possible, and don’t park directly across from another vehicle. Park at least 20 feet from intersections so emergency vehicles can make the turn onto the street, and don’t park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant.
Stand out. In an emergency, every second counts. Make sure your house number is easily visible from the street. In wintertime, if your house is near a fire hydrant, clear the snow away so firefighters don’t have to.
Change the batteries. Once you install your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, it’s easy to forget about them. You should change your detector batteries about every six months. How about New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July? Memorial Day and Thanksgiving? It’s all good.
Join up. Current circumstances have made it impossible to safely conduct the fire department’s Citizens Fire Academy, which, in addition to being a tremendously fun experience, also serves as the department’s biggest recruiting tool.
olunteers must be Mt. Lebanon residents, at least 18 years old. Must be non-smokers who are able to pass the department’s fitness exam and criminal background check. Download an application at mtlfd.org.
Once accepted, volunteers begin a 166-hour initial training program. Despite the term “volunteer,” you get paid for taking the time to complete the program.
The training program usually starts in mid-January, runs through mid-May, goes on summer hiatus, resumes in September and concludes in mid- October. Recruits who complete the program must pass a national certification exam.
Volunteer firefighters spend about five hours a week on fire department responsibilities. Throughout the year, members are required to attend 18 Monday evening training sessions, respond to a minimum of 7.5 percent of the department’s calls—that typically means answering about eight to 10 calls a month—attend a minimum of five business meetings and work six overnight shifts.
Once the initial training is done, new recruits complete a probationary period of up to two years. During this time, they participate in an extensive training program to satisfy the requirements of national Firefighter Level 1 Certification.
You will be working under the direction of the department’s career fire officers. As your training and experience continues, expect to carry out tasks of increasing levels of responsibility, including carrying equipment between trucks and incident sites, and up and down stairs in buildings; advancing charged hoses; breaking through doors, walls, ceilings and roofs using equipment that may include chainsaws, rotary saws and sledgehammers; raising or lowering ladders or carrying injured people from buildings; extricating victims from vehicles; providing medical assistance to people who are sick or injured as the result of fire-related incidents or other sorts of accidents; and conducting fire prevention inspections, participating in community events and department outreach activities.
Sound like fun? Download an application at mtlfd.org. Also, check out the videos in the “recruitment” section of the website.