The Observer Is Given A Tour of Lakewood Fire Department Headquarters
Nearly everyone who has needed the services of the Lakewood Fire Department will attest to the professionalism and compassion they received from the men of LFD. On the Observation Deck, our online message boards, residents and visitors of Lakewood frequently offer their praise of Lakewood’s firefighter/paramedics.
The Lakewood Observer was recently offered the opportunity to tour LFD’s headquarters at Station 1 with the assistant chief, Darren Collins.
Collins is a veteran of the Lakewood Fire Department and could not see himself doing anything else. Collins, like the rest of the staff, truly loves his job and takes pride in serving the community.
Collins is a supervisor at LFD, meaning much of his time is spent keeping his firefighters up to date on training and also responding to emergencies to supervise and direct the response. Major scenes, such as structure fires, vehicle accidents with people trapped, and heart attacks often require the response of multiple firefighters or even multiple fire departments. Collins’ most important role is to ensure crews stay safe and coordinate with each other effectively.
FIREFIGHTERS / PARAMEDICS
Nearly all of Lakewood’s firefighters are cross-trained as paramedics. This means that they all able to provide advanced medical care (starting IVs, performing Defibrillation, and inserting airways) on-scene. In the unusual event that Lakewood’s ambulances are not available and/or responding to other emergencies, the Department can dispatch an engine company or other vehicle and begin to administer life-saving treatment on-scene until an ambulance arrives to transport the patient to the hospital.
Station 1 located is centrally located in the city on Madison Ave and it is often the busiest station in Lakewood. In addition to serving as the department’s administrative headquarters, it also houses several emergency vehicles (frequently referred to as “apparatus” by firefighters). Two advanced life support (ALS) ambulances are stationed here, as well as a reserve engine, and a command car.
Perhaps the most impressive piece of apparatus is Truck 1. This piece of apparatus is a Quint, meaning it serves five key firefighting functions: water tank, water pump, aerial ladder, ground ladders, and hoses. Another key purpose it serves is protecting first responders at an accident scene. In January of 2017, Cleveland police officer David Fahey was tragically killed while working at the scene of an accident on I-90. The tragedy could have been much worse if Rocky River Truck 66, which is similar to Lakewood Truck 1, had not been on the scene. Rocky River Truck 66 was totaled when a reckless driver slammed into it, but it served as a barrier and prevented other first responders from being struck. This is why Lakewood Fire Department frequently dispatch Truck 1 or an engine company to nearly all accident scenes, especially those on I-90
Also housed at Station 1 is the Westshore Hazmat/Technical Rescue Truck. This truck contains equipment used in Hazmat incidents and building/structure collapses. It serves not just Lakewood but also Rocky River, Bay Village, Fairview Park, North Olmsted and Westlake. Those cities make-up a joint response team for such incidents and all of them contribute manpower, funds, and equipment.
As evidenced by the shared use of a Hazmat/Technical Rescue response team, the Lakewood Fire Department takes collaboration with surrounding fire departments very seriously. Suburban fire departments often lack the manpower to a handle structure fires or major incidents by themselves (the National Fire Protection Association suggests an absolute minimum of 15 firefighters for an active structure fire). In densely populated cities like Lakewood, large responses are often necessary to prevent the spread of fires to nearby structures.
To address this, Lakewood has “mutual aid” agreements with surrounding suburbs. For example, Lakewood often requires an additional engine company from Rocky River for a fire. In turn, Lakewood will assist Rocky River with similar incidents in their city. Collins estimated that the Lakewood Fire department gives mutual aid as much as it receives it.
The mutual aid agreements allow residents of suburban communities to receive first-class, large responses to major incidents and also helps fire crews stay safe.
When not responding to calls, Lakewood’s firefighters are often in training. Station 1 has a classroom for training on tactics and responses, and crews will also conduct training exercise in the field. Next month, LFD members will work the MetroPark rangers for training on water rescues in the Rocky River. Training is ongoing for members of LFD as they work to keep their skills sharp and ensure they are capable to responding to any type of emergency in the city.
2017 BY THE NUMBERS
Total responses - 6728
of which -
151 fire responses, 66 listed as building fires
5387 rescue and EMS incidents (including 11 water/ice rescue type incidents, 34 stalled elevator incidents, 152 motor vehicle accidents)
246 service calls (lock-outs, lock-ins, water leaks, police assists, unauthorized burning (fire pits in back yards), etc.)
452 hazardous condition incidents (gasoline spills, natural gas leaks, carbon monoxide investigations, power lines down, etc.)
299 false alarms
6 Weather related incidents (sometimes this falls under downed power lines when a storm rolls through)
32 Special incident types
135 Good intent calls (assist residents, cancelled in route, etc.)
For more on the services provided by the Lakewood Fire Department, including information relating to emergency preparedness, ambulance billing, and FAQs visit the department’s website at www.onelakewood.com/community-vision/safety/
Jacob Chabowski is a photographer based in Cleveland, Ohio covering news, sports, and community events. Follow him on twitter @JCPhotos17 or email him at ChabowskiPhotography@gmail.com
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