Firefighters make house calls to promote safety

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Firefighters Steve Garcia, center, and Garrett Nash, right, discuss fire safety door hangers with Joe Gomez Wednesday in front of his home.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Joe Gomez said he has never used smoke detectors in his home, but after talking with Clovis firefighters Wednesday he welcomed their offer to help him install some.

“It’s all right,” said the 71-year-old Gomez with a broad grin when firefighters stopped by his Hinkle Street home.

Clovis firefighters are taking to the streets this week in an effort to meet residents and spread the word about fire safety.

Firefighters shared a message they usually give in local classrooms, public education officer Larry Roybal said.

Armed with 5,000 glossy informational door hangers to distribute, firefighters from the department’s five stations will head out on each shift over the next two weeks in hopes of meeting the people they serve and talking with them about fire safety.

They will be walking through the neighborhoods their individual stations respond to, Roybal said.

“It’s a way to get to know people in a nice way instead of in an ambulance or, God forbid, a fire,” Roybal said.

“We’re people just like they are, and we want to help out as much as we can.”

Firefighter Steve Garcia strolled down Hinkle Street, easily switching from English to Spanish as he greeted people and explained the reason for his visit.

“Before, we just did (fire safety) at the schools,” Garcia said. “We depend on all that information to get home with the kids to the adults. Well this is a way we can get it to them directly.”

Garcia said a lot of older homes housing low-income individuals and senior citizens are not outfitted with smoke detectors. Nor have those people been reached with safety messages.

Typically, he explained, those are the neighborhoods with the highest incidence of fire.

Firefighters are glad to show residents how to service their smoke detectors and change batteries, Garcia said. For residents who don’t have detectors, the department will come out and install them.

“I really believe this stuff,” he said, pointing to his stack of door hangers.

Roberto Lopez leaned over his fence holding his 15-month-old daughter, Tilia, in his arms.

“I think it’s pretty cool,” he said.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever seen that. It’s a good idea for people to learn (about fire safety).”