KNOXVILLE (May 18, 2011) -- Knox County is continuing the observance of National Public Works Week (NPWW) by highlighting the Fire Prevention Bureau and outstanding employee Kathy Saunders.
“By educating and properly enforcing fire codes, the Fire Prevention Bureau is a division of public works that helps make Knox County a safer place to live, work and visit,” said Mayor Tim Burchett.
Knox County Fire Marshal Kathy Saunders has been with the Bureau for over a decade. The Bureau has an extensive list of services and safety code enforcement roles, but Saunders explains that it has three basic functions: inspections, investigations and public education.
“The biggest in terms of personnel is inspections,” said Saunders. “We inspect all commercial structures as they’re being built to make sure they’re in compliance and meet safety codes. We also inspect existing facilities.”
The Bureau investigates any structure fire in Knox County outside City of Knoxville limits. A basic origin-and-cause investigation is launched and is followed through by a safety officer, who is certified through the Sherriff’s Office to identify arson cases. In addition to inspections and investigations, the Bureau handles public education efforts to bring awareness to the severity of household fires.
“The two highest-risk populations are children and seniors,” said Saunders.
To educate children, the Bureau has a Life Safety House, essentially a camper trailer modified into a small house, which is used to teach valuable fire-safety lessons to kindergarten students. The mobile classroom simulates various living spaces in a residence with the fire and safety hazards that might exist. Seniors are targeting through presentations at senior centers and the Senior Citizen’s Awareness Network (SCAN).
In addition to the three main services provided by the Bureau, it also hosts a fire hotline (215-FIRE) and manages a program to provide smoke detectors to Knox County residents. The Bureau will even supply specially designed smoke detectors to those residents who are deaf or hearing impaired.
The Fire Prevention Bureau is a public works department that strives to protect Knox County residents and guests from the dangers of fire. It works efficiently and cost-effectively to develop proactive fire education campaigns, maintain an aggressive fire investigation program and conduct life safety inspections of existing structures and new construction.
For all the men and women who work diligently to prevent fires, enforce public safety codes, maintain infrastructure and all the other countless aspects of public works, Knox County thanks you.
For more information on National Public Works Week, visit www2.apwa.net/About/npww/.
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