Vigo County fire departments practice bailout bag safety and install smoke alarms

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The Otter Creek Fire Department is now better equipped to safely escape any multi-story burning buildings, thanks to an eight thousand dollar bailout bag grant from the Joey DiBernardo Foundation.

The foundation, named after deceased New York Firefighter Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo, aims to provide fire departments around the nation with state of the art safety gear.

“It’s expensive but you know it’s money well spent,” said Otter Creek Public Information Officer Lt. Josh Craft.

Bailout bags contain cords, belts and hooks that help firefighters rappel down buildings in an emergency situation.

“Well if you get stuck in a fire on the second and third floor and there’s no ladder nearby the only way to go is down obviously,” Craft told WTOW. “So we need a bag like this to be able to slowly drop ourselves to the ground.”

While Otter Creek tested out safety equipment, the American Red Cross, paired with more volunteers from the Terre Haute Fire Department, focused on preventing house fires in the community.

“The Terre Haute Fire Department helps us identify the areas to canvas,” said Red Cross Executive Director Theo Boots. “And this particular neighborhood has had fourteen fires in the last three years.”

In the neighborhoods of Collett park and Twelve Points, volunteers installed smoke alarms in homes and educated families on the topic of house fires.

 “Every eight minutes we’re responding to a disaster and many of them being home fires,” said Boots. “So it’s very important to educate the community about what would start a home fire and then what to do in case something happens.”

Efforst from fire departments and other community organizations like the Red Cross aid, educate and help prevent possible emergency situations.

“That’s what makes our community more resiliant, is when you have local, when you have neighbors helping neighbors,” said Boots.

Volunteers will be canvasing the Terre Haute area again on March 2nd.

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