RICHMOND, Va. -- You should soon expect a knock at your door from a Richmond firefighter if you own or rent a home in the City of Richmond.
CBS 6 followed Lt. Jason Gordon and his crew at Richmond Fire Engine 23 as they canvassed a Southside neighborhood on Tuesday.
Gordon knocked on doors while carrying crucial information for surviving the worst-case scenario.
“We are also giving out fire safety tips,” he told one homeowner. “It talks about having an escape plan to get out of the house if anything happens.”
The information he handed out was titled “Fire Safety Five To Stay Alive.” In addition to the fire escape plan, Gordon asks if there are working smoke detectors in the home.
He encouraged Richmonders to clear clutter that could become an obstacle during an escape, to prevent overloading extension cords and power strips and to always smoke outside.
“It helps us interact with citizens that way they get to know us, and we get to know them,” Gordon explained. “It makes for a more comfortable relationship between the fire department and the community.”
The tour came after a devastating year for fire fatalities in the city.
Richmond Fire Capt. Steven Hall Jr. shared grim statistics at Tuesday’s’ public safety committee in City Hall.
Fires caused two deaths in the city between January and August 2020. So far this year, 11 people have died in eight house fires.
The most recent deadly fire was reported on August 31 in the city’s East End.
“In the past, anytime we had a major fire or fire fatality we would go in the surrounding neighborhood and hand out fire safety information and offer home safety surveys and smoke detector checks,” Hall stated. “But that’s usually only in the area affected in the fire.”
Hall said their latest canvassing efforts are more robust than in years past. Starting on October 18, all fire companies will begin canvassing their neighborhoods with the goal of knocking on every door by the end of 2021.
There are approximately 100,000 homes within city lines. Richmond Fire has knocked on about 45,000 front doors so far this year.
Moving forward, the fire department will make every effort to canvass every neighborhood twice a year.
For those living in apartment complexes, Richmond Fire spokesperson said fire prevention efforts are the responsibility of the landlord. However, they said they will visit a property if requested.
The department has installed 92 new smoke detectors within recent months.