By: Angela Simmons, Weekly Editor
O’Fallon Fire Department Chief Brad White is asking for help and cooperation from community members to help protect the department’s volunteer firefighters.
“During this ongoing pandemic, O’Fallon Fire Dept is requesting all residents serviced by the department to cease the open burning of yard waste. Over the last two weeks, over half of the department’s responses were to controlled burns that got out of control or controlled burns that produced enough smoke where by other residents called to report suspected brush fires or house fires. Residents living within O’Fallon city limits are reminded of the city’s existing ordinance which precludes the open burning of yard waste year round. Residents in Shiloh are currently under a Village imposed temporary ban on open burning of yard waste. Although not currently banned from burning, I’d ask those residents who live within St Clair County jurisdiction to also refrain from burning,” said Chief White.
He also added “BBQ grills and recreational burn pits are still approved. Remember Fire Safety – keep these items 15 feet from your home. My goal is to limit the number of unnecessary responses by O’Fallon Fire Department’s VOLUNTEER firefighters during this pandemic. Please help keep your volunteer firefighters safe … PLEASE DON’T BURN.”
Chief White said everyone in the department is healthy so far, and they’re adapting to best serve the community during the pandemic. “We’ve modified our response procedures and added additional personnel to our day and night shift. Unless it’s a large emergency (structure fire or significant accident) we’re only utilizing the expand crews on shift to respond. All of the additional volunteer firefighters stay home to reduce their risk of exposure. We just started the new process April 1 so we’re still adjusting.”
White is thankful for community donations and care , but added that the department could use more personal protective equipment (PPE), as they also share with other first responders. “We’ve received basic PPE supplies from the County EMA. I’d be lying if I said we’d turn away any sort of donations. What we can’t use we share with other local responders in need.Many local restaurants have donated lunches or offered O’Fallon first responders discounts. We’re well taken care of in this community,” he said.
The department also wants to help brighten birthdays for children that are celebrating in isolation. “With the social distancing challenges, we’re looking for opportunities to send our fire engines by homes for children’s birthdays. We can’t promise to fulfill every request but we’ll make an appearance when possible.”
To stay up to date on fire safety, or to find out how to donate supplies or ask for birthday appearances, follow the O’Fallon Fire Department Facebook page or visit www.ofallonfire.com.