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City fire department to develop community awareness program

The city fire department has always been quick to respond to any accidents, injuries and structure fires, but it is also taking on the task of a more holistic approach to interact with residents and prevent commercial structure fires.

Fire Chief Mark Killian this week told Council’s public safety committee the department recently was notified it was a recipient of a federal government grant for about $49,000 that will be used toward the purchase of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and for costs related to an awareness program — “Williamsport Safe.”

Killian noted how the department was seeking local business partners and will use local printing companies to make its public outreach material.

The program will include some hours of the weekend, most likely, when firefighters and city officials will go door-to-door to interact with owner-occupied property owners, he said.

It will continue through winter on a smaller scale and ramp-up in the spring, Killian said.

Killian applied for the grant of about $50,000 in April, with a smaller required match of $2,000.

When the codes enforcement officers check rental units during inspection for fire safety hazards, that same attention to detail is often overlooked in commercial properties.

“A lot of commercial properties have a potential to be missed with life safety components,” Killian said. The inspections are being planned for on a rotating basis over the course of four years, Killian said.

“It is part of the overall department restructuring,” Killian said. “It is important to property owners and people who visit commercial occupancies. About 80 percent of small businesses will not reopen if they have a fire in their business.”

The matching fund for grant, of $2,000, may be taken from an account that was reserved for matching funds, he said.

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