The 2014 Non-Profit Organization of the Year, Carlisle Fire Company was featured at the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Milford Sunrise Seminar for November. Fire Chief, Duane Fox talked to those in attendance about the fire company and offered tips on keeping businesses and homes safe.
According to Chief Fox, there are only three paid fire companies in Delaware, two of which are military and the third in Wilmington. Carlisle Fire Company is volunteer, although they do have paid staff that operate the ambulance. The fire company was incorporated in 1802 and is named after Paris T. Carlisle, a member who died in World War I.
Chief Fox said he was fire chief from 1995 to 1997 and returned to the office after his children were grown. He said that when he was chief just 15 years ago, the company ran between 285 and 300 fire calls as well as around 2,000 ambulance calls. This year, with almost two months left, the company has already run over 400 fire calls and it is anticipated that they will run more than 5,000 ambulance calls. These numbers are putting a strain on the volunteer company as, although there are 100 members on the books, only 25 to 30 are active members.
The company accepts members at the age of 14, although Chief Fox would like to see it changed to 16. When they started accepting members at 14, members that young could be trained at the Delaware State Fire School, but now the Fire School requires trainees to be 15½. He says they will accept members from 14 until “almost dead.” He also explained that there for those who do not want to fight fires, there are other volunteer opportunities.
According to Chief Fox, the fire company is a multi-million dollar business. The last fire truck they purchased cost $500,000. They are currently looking at replacing their ladder truck and estimates are coming in at well over $1,000,000. Therefore, the company needs volunteers who understand financial matters, equipment maintenance and other behind-the-scenes duties.
In addition, Chief Fox said that he would encourage business owners to discuss volunteering for the fire company with their employees if they are looking for volunteer opportunities. He also said that many of the calls come in during the day when there are few people available for fires. He asked that business owners talk to employees to learn if they are volunteer firefighters and consider giving them the time off to fight fires or work at accident scenes.
One program that Chief Fox wanted to make people aware of was the Knox Box Program. A Knox Box is a safe that attaches to the side of a building that contains a key to the business that only the fire company has the ability to open. This allows the fire department to enter a building if the automatic alarm goes off when the building is not occupied. He explained that the fire company could only open boxes that were within their fire district. For example, if the Harrington Raceway, who was in attendance at the seminar, had a lockbox, his key would not open it, but Harrington Fire Company’s would.
Chief Fox explained that if an alarm went off in the middle of the night, he had two choices. He could use the key in the box so that the owner did not have to get out of bed in the middle of the night and bring him one, open the building, check it out, and if he found nothing, he could lock the door and go write his report. His second choice was to bring the big fire truck with the shiny tools, break open the door, check out the building, but if he found nothing, he was not going to be able to lock the door when he left because it would be damaged. He also reminded businesses that had the Knox Box installed to be sure the key inside was the current key, as sometimes when personnel changed, locks were also changed. He said that the fire company, at one time, had the boxes that they sold at cost to those who wanted to install them.
Chief Fox discussed the Smart911 program as well as ordinances for smoke detector requirements. He pointed out that a smoke detector was only necessary when you were asleep because when you were awake, you could detect smoke or fire. Therefore, he suggested that smoke detectors be placed in every bedroom and on each level of the home, including the basement.
CCGM holds a Sunrise Seminar every month and features an interesting guest speaker at each. Members who attend are provided a free breakfast and anyone who arrives prior to 7:45 AM places a business card in a drawing for a five-minute presentation on the products or services their business offers at the start of the meeting. In addition, members who bring guests are given a “goodie” bag of gifts. For more information on promoting your business and networking, or to learn more about Sunrise Seminars, contact CCGM at 302-422-3344.