Omaha Fire dept. focuses fire safety in South O

Posted at 11:55 PM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-21 00:55:11-04

The Omaha Fire Department has been spreading the message of fire safety for years, but are now putting a little more emphasis in the South Omaha area. 

In recent months, the area has been the stage for several fatal fires. OFD says one of the homes didn't have smoke detectors, a common problem in the neighborhood. 

To better inform the community, OFD created the Public Education Program several years ago. Their mission: to take a proactive approach to raise awareness and education the public on fire safety and how to protect their home, business or family in the event of a fire or catastrophe. 

The program also ensures every home is equipped with smoke detectors. Firefighters will inspect homes to test the batteries on the detectors, and replace the defective ones. They'll even install a brand new one, for no cost at all. 

"The first thing we do check with every family is to make sure that everyone has a smoke detector, because that's going to be our first line of defense if there's ever a fire in their home," says Verrelle Gordon, the Omaha Public Education Manager for OFD.

The successful program of several years offers fire safety presentations, almost on a daily basis, catering to families, individuals, and businesses. 

With a need for more awareness in Hispanic communities, OFD brought in a bilingual public education specialist, to help spread the message to those communities. The program is now offered in Spanish, bridging the gap. 

"When you go to a household and they speak Spanish and the first thing they see is a familiar face or they see that you speak their language, it's great for communication," says Sergio Robles, the Spanish speaking specialist for the Public Education office. "That's why there was such a big need for a Spanish speaking liaison."

Gordan says being able to share their fire safety message in Spanish was a necessity, as they strive to cater to all communities in the area.

For more information on fire safety or need assistance in installing a smoke detector free of charge, contact the Omaha Fire Department's Public Education Program office at 402-444-3560 or visit their website