Hours after a 53-year-old man lost his life in a Green Alley house fire, interim Fire Chief Randy Smith stood near the blackened remains of the shotgun house where the man was found facedown and unresponsive and introduced a new fire prevention initiative.
“Wherever there is a fire in a neighborhood, within 48 hours, crews will return to the area, go door-to-door and pass out fliers,” Smith said, emphasizing that firefighters will not be entering anyone’s home. “We’re there just to provide some additional information and answer some questions if we can.”
The fliers include a fire safety primer and a self-assessment checklist with 33 “yes or no” questions.
“Once you’ve completed it we encourage you to change all the no’s to yesses,” Smith said.
Gabriel Tynes / Lagniappe
The Neighborhood Fire Station program, as it will be known, dovetails the department’s new “Safety First” initiative, which uses the city’s voluntary messaging system to deliver a 15-second fire safety message each month via an automated phone call. Residents must be enrolled in the city’s program to receive the messages.
“We’re trying to get more proactive in putting ourselves out of business,” Smith said. ”We know it’s going to be a tough job, but as an FD we’re not only there to respond to the needs of the community, we’re there to protect the needs of the community through public education and fire prevention.”
On the same day the Mobile City Council again tabled his nomination for the permanent position of chief, Smith didn’t shy away from questions about his candidacy and insisted the new fire safety campaign was not politically motivated.
“I’ve always been active in the community and active in the department,” he said. “I initiated a protocol for my officers to spend at least 10 percent of their time interacting with the community and interacting with the employees. My job is to handle whatever needs to be done, but to be available to the media, the public and the personnel in the stations.”
Elaborating on the now months-long City Council confirmation process, Smith, a 28-year employee of the city said, “I’ve learned over my career take everything with stride. The mayor supports me I support the vision the mayor has and his administration 110 percent. My job is to support the men and women doing the job and to serve the community and I’m going to continue doing that no matter what position I’m in.”
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