The Avera Prince of Peace Retirement Community is leading the way in Sioux Falls in fire safety. As Nancy Naeve Brown tells us, they have developed a system in their Independent Living Apartments to help firefighters get residents out quickly.
Dan Irvine is a retired Sioux Falls firefighter who is putting his expertise to work at the Avera Prince of Peace Retirement Community. Dan now works as the courtesy driver for residents here but maybe even more importantly he is being credited as a pioneer for developing a simple, inexpensive numbering system in Laurel Oaks Independent Living Apartments that could save lives, time and property in the event of a fire.
"We are putting the numbers 16" off the floor so firefighters coming in could come in underneath the smoke and can see how many people reside there. We set them up on the hinge side so if you see the number you know where to reach for the knob on the opposite side," Dan said.
Firefighters from Station Number 9 are checking out the system that uses magnetic reflective numbers that now accurately reflects how many people are inside each apartment.
"We had a problem with individuals not wanting a loved one or spouses name taken off their door for sentimental reasons. Some women felt more secure having the man's name on the door so for accountability we had to come up with an idea to show that 2 people no longer live in there, "Dan said.
Sioux Falls Fire Chief Jim Sideras thinks it's an idea that all retirement communities should adopt.
"When we come into a location like this a lot of smoke, a lot of confusions the numbering system allows firefighters to rapidly determine the number of people in each room. It's a unique way of doing that and allows us to get accountability very quickly especially in a chaotic situation. What's important to us is to get a count of who's in those rooms so we don't miss anybody, will also be searching but this is another tool to allow us to do our job better." Chief Sideras said.
They also have labels on all the utility rooms like the laundry room and the boiler room. That way if the fire started in one of these rooms the firefighters could go directly here and not waste time going apartment to apartment.
"That could save our lives because if we have a count we don't have to send people back in," Chief Sideras said.
Max Dreier and his wife Carol have lived in Laurel Oaks for three years and he wants all the residents to get behind the new system.
"We have an obligation on our part to let administration know when we are leaving, how long we'll be gone and we will have to get a zero to put on our door and then when we get back turn in our zero and get a number 2 again, " Max said.
Max knows it's in his best interest to be proactive and since his retirement community and Dan Irvine have taken the lead in Sioux Falls in fire safety, he is more than happy to follow.
Avera Prince of Peace plans to extend their numbering system to the Assisted Living Wing as well.
If you have questions go to: http://www.avera.org/prince-of-peace/index.aspx