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Fire departments across the nation issue a safety and survival alert

NOW: Fire departments across the nation issue a safety and survival alert

PENN TOWNSHIP, Ind. -- This week, all fire chiefs across the country are being asked to issue a safety and survival alert in their departments.

The alert from the International Association of Fire Chiefs is all about staying safe on the roads.

Penn Township Fire Department Chief of Training Brian Kazmierzak explained the importance of the week.

“The highway is the most dangerous place that any responder operates. Fire, EMS, DOT, even tow truck drivers,” Kazmierzak said. “When only 85 firefighters die a year die, there were only 10 last year that died inside a burning building.”

Kazmierzak says most calls the Penn Township Fire Department responds to are on the roads.

“We’re up there for long periods of time on crashes, the weather conditions are poor, and visibility for drivers is poor. So the safety stand down and safety week is all about getting the word out for drivers to slow down when they see emergency vehicles on the highway,” said Kazmierzak.

He says the department may do 30 to 40 house fires a year, but they work on the bypass more than 150 times a year.

After near-misses recently on US 20, the department has done additional training about roadway safety.

Locally, there have been incidents where people and equipment have been struck.

“There have been numerous. Southwest Central Fire Territory has been struck in the past couple years. Clay was recently struck on the toll road. We’ve been struck on the bypass,” Kazmierzak said.

Not only is this alert a time for responders to review roadway operations, but it’s a time to remind drivers to slow down when they see an emergency vehicle on the roadways.

Officials also request that you avoid recording responders on the roadways as you drive on your cell phone.

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