A POUND OF PREVENTION The Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded the Mt. Lebanon Fire Department with a $26,280 fire prevention grant for a smoke detector program. The award is partially based on data collected by firefighters during calls and through the department’s After The Fire program, in which firefighters visit a neighborhood after a house fire to talk to residents about the fire and how it could have been prevented. During these visits, firefighters found that about 30 percent of Mt. Lebanon houses do not have working smoke detectors. The money will be used to purchase smoke detectors, which will then be given to people who do not have them or whose current detectors are more than 10 years old. Seeing that a detector costs about $15, that means more than 1,750 detectors for the community. Lt. Chris Switala wrote the grant and will work on a program to distribute them.
KEEPING SCHOOLS SAFE Mt. Lebanon police officers and firefighters are committed to conducting security and safety checks of every Mt. Lebanon school, including St. Bernard, Keystone Oaks and Seton-La Salle.
Police Officer Scott Kunz, who spent two weeks at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia, earlier this year attending classes in comprehensive security and critical infrastructure protection, will ensure the security checks meet the most current national standards. This year, the school district instituted new entry protocols that require all visitors, even parents, to be buzzed in. “We hope that parents understand that while there may be some inconvenience, this is being done to protect their children,” says Police Chief Coleman McDonough. Ongoing training also is under way with staff and teachers in an effort to strengthen security and remind them that if they see something suspicious, they need to contact police and school security immediately.
The police department also offers free security assessments to day care centers, churches and synagogues. Police officers survey the facility and make suggestions for security improvements and review security training and protocols. McDonough says Officer Kunz’s training, and the security assessments to follow, “will pay dividends for years.”
Firefighters also visit the schools to ensure fire alarm systems and exit signs are functioning properly and that fire extinguishers are inspected and present. In addition, firefighters check that mechanical rooms are clear of combustibles and that evacuation plans—created by the fire department and the school district—are posted in every room.
ANOTHER 911 REMINDER In the last few issues, we’ve reminded you that 911 is the only number you should call when you need a police officer, firefighter or ambulance. No matter how trivial the issue may seem, if you want someone to respond immediately, you must call 911. But even with all the reminders, someone recently called the Mt. Lebanon Recreation Department on a Saturday and left a message requesting help in summoning a police officer. The message sat until Monday morning when the staff arrived for work. Call 911. Don’t worry about bothering the dispatcher. Don’t worry that your call is not technically an emergency. Call 911.
If you do have a true non-emergency question, try the police department’s new website, pd.mtlebanon.org. Since debuting early this summer, the site has proved very popular for residents seeking answers to non-emergency questions. But remember: do not use it in an emergency! It is not monitored 24/7. Call 911 if you need immediate help. 911. For immediate assistance. All the time.