Ocean City firefighters offer home safety checks

OCEAN CITY — Francis Pusey allowed some Ocean City Fire Department staffers into her home recently, and she feels safer after having done so.

They checked her smoke alarms and replaced their batteries, and they checked her doorways to make sure she could get out of her home safely in case of emergency, she said.

Pusey was one of the first in town to take firefighters up on their offer to evaluate homes for potential fire hazards. They’ve been canvassing Ocean City’s neighborhoods, going door-to-door to offer the free safety evaluations, since the beginning of the month.

Fire department staff members check for things like overloaded outlets, working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, unobstructed exit routes from the home and good address visibility from the street, among other measures geared toward either preventing a fire from occurring or decreasing the damage a fire could ultimately do.

“There were really no negatives, and everything went so well,” Pusey said. “They were so helpful. I think it’s great the department is doing this.”

Chief Chris Larmore said the evaluations are one more step the department is taking to make the resort fire-free, and to ensure its residents and visitors are safe.

Deputy Fire Marshal Joe Sexauer said the program is beneficial because a lot of people know the general rules of fire safety, but sometimes forget some of the little things the firefighters are able to spot quickly.

“It helps to remind them,” he said.

Fire department spokesman Ryan Whittington was on a check recently when a family of two adults and three kids welcomed him into their home and he found a smoke detector with a dead battery in it on the first floor.

“That’s one of the things I’ve found rewarding in doing these checks,” Whittington said. “We were able to replace that battery, and now the alarm is fully operational.”

An added benefit, Sexauer said, is it gets the firefighters out and about in the community, where they can get to know people and offer face-to-face advice on fire safety and prevention.

“Once you see a firefighter, people tend to have questions on all types of things, like maintenance on appliances or something with their fireplace,” Sexauer said. “They’re things they might not necessarily think of or they might not stop into the station to ask about.”

Whittington stressed the evaluations are not considered official inspections, and residents are not required to allow firefighters to check their homes.

Ocean City residents can schedule appointments by calling program manager Capt. Bryon Trimble at 410-289-4346, ext. 7426.

Evaluations will continue for as long as necessary, Whittington said.

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