Fire department developing web tool to allow residents to alert them about vulnerable citizens

Fire Chief Tony Lopez said information about "premise  hazards" can help firefighters make sure they proactively seek out people with disabilities or limited mobility in the case of a fire.
Fire Chief Tony Lopez said information about “premise hazards” can help firefighters make sure they proactively seek out people with disabilities or limited mobility in the case of a fire.

When firefighters get a call to a house fire, one of the first things they check is whether the address listed has notes alerting them that someone who lives on the site uses tanked oxygen, or that someone at the house requires a wheelchair to move around. It’s the kind of information that could mean life or death for a person with a disability trapped inside a home.

“It’s really good stuff for us to know,” said Consolidated Fire District No. 2 Chief Tony Lopez. “That way, all of us going there are instantly on the same page and we know what the priorities to check for are as soon as we get there.”

But to date, it hasn’t been particularly easy for northeast Johnson County residents to let fire crews know about these “premise hazards,” as they’re called.

“Currently, people just have to call in, and it’s a hit and miss kind of thing,” Lopez said. “We haven’t ever sought this information proactively. We figured this is something we could do for our citizens in the district.”

In response, CFD2 is in the process of developing a new function on its website that will let northeast Johnson County residents file notes about their properties that could be of use to firefighters. Lopez said getting more information about homes where people with limited mobility or other disabilities may be in the event of a fire is a current focus of the department.

“If someone is bedridden and we know that they are in the bedroom on the back of the house, that let’s us know right where we have to check as soon as we get to a fire,” he said.

CFD2 anticipates launching the new web tool in the next two weeks. In the meantime, though, Lopez said the department is going to work to alert residents of their efforts to get information about potentially vulnerable citizens.

“Usually, we’ve had people calling in about their elderly parents and wanting to know how they can let us know about this kind of thing,” he said. “We want to make it easier for everyone.”