How often should I change my smoke detector battery?
The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you “change your battery when you change your clock” (twice yearly). Be sure that when you insert a new battery that the battery contacts snap tightly into the detector battery contacts. We have found many inoperable detectors with the batteries not properly installed. Also, if your smoke detector is more than 10 years old, it should be replaced as the sensors become too contaminated from household cooking and dust.
What is the best type of smoke detector to buy?
Any smoke detector is a great thing to have; however, there are a new type of smoke detector with 10 year lithium batteries that you might want to consider. They are a little bit more expensive to purchase but you won’t have to replace the battery. Once the detector is 10 years old, throw it away and buy a new one since the sensor will be contaminated anyway.
Where should I place our smoke detectors?
It is very important to at a minimum have one smoke detector on each floor, especially near the bedrooms or sleeping areas. Many people place a detector in each bedroom in addition to one on each level of the home. One detector should be located near the top of the basement stairs, one on the first floor (away from the kitchen area to avoid nuisance alarms), and a third in the main hallway near the bedroom or sleeping areas.
Do I really need a Carbon Monoxide Detector?
Any home that has at least one appliance that works on the principle of combustion should have a CO detector. These detectors alarm when carbon monoxide (a colorless, odorless, deadly gas) is found in the building. If you have any of the following, you need a CO detector to protect you and your family: Oil Furnace, Natural Gas or Propane Furnace, Fireplace, Woodburning Stove, Pellet Stove, Natural Gas or Propane Fireplace Insert or Logs, Natural Gas or Propane Dryer or Stove, Emergency Generator, Kerosene Heater or an attached or internal vehicle garage.
How do Carbon Monoxide Detectors work?
Most CO detectors will alarm for two different reasons. First it will alarm if there is a low level CO present over an extended period of time and second it will alarm if there is a high concentration of CO detected in a short period of time. Exposure to low levels of CO over time will cause CO poisioning with symptoms like headache, nausea, lightheadedness and vomiting. High levels of CO will cause instant suffocation as it displaces breathing air.
What type of Carbon Monoxide Detectors are best?
Any CO detector is better than none at all, but we have found some to be easier to understand for the homeowner than others. They all have advantages and disadvantages but we have found the 110 volt units you plug into an electrical outlet that display the amount of CO present in a digital readout display are the easiest to understand. It shows the concentration of CO measured in parts per million. The downfall to this type of detector is that it won’t work during a power outage, but neither will most furnaces and appliances. If you have an emergency generator or battery backup for a pellet stove, you should be sure to have a battery operated CO alarm.
Do seat belts really make a difference when involved in an accident?
We could surely find you a ton of statistical information regarding the pros and cons of seat belt use to list here but we would rather tell you how we see it. Our department responds to more vehicle accidents than any other type of true emergency call. We provide vehicle rescue for our own district as well as the primary rescue company for a few neighboring fire districts and assist several adjoining fire districts regularly at vehicle accidents. We have seen many accidents where seat belts have without any doubt in our mind saved lives. We have also seen many times where if a seat belt would have been used the person could have lived or had minor injuries. And finally there have been a few severe accident scenes where it probably didn’t matter, the final result would have been fatal either way. Our firefighters wear seatbelts regularly!
Why are so many fire departments and trucks sent to emergency calls?
Often times, the equipment needed to handle a structural fire can be found on two, three or four trucks and vehicle accidents can be handled with the equipment on one or two trucks. Some trucks are specialty pieces of equipment and are set up for a particular purpose and different calls may require different specialty apparatus. It is unfortunate that we often need to have multiple companies dispatched to emergency scenes just to be able to get enough personnel to handle the problem.
When, what and how can I burn in Unity Township?
Unity Township has an ordinance relating to burning that must be followed. Open burning is only permitted on Tuesday and Saturday during daylight hours, all fires must be attended to at all times, an ample water supply must be readily available to extinguish the fire, no burning of trash is permitted, the use of burn barrels is prohibited as well. Only yard waste is permitted to be burned and burning may be prohibited completely during drought conditions and at certain dates and times during the summer. No burning is permitted on any holiday and all fires must be kept a certain distance from adjoining property lines and buildings. This is just a quick overview of the ordinance, a full copy of the burning ordinance should be obtained and permission received by calling Unity Township at 724-539-2546.
Can I burn down an old shed, garage, barn or house if I have the fire department present when it is burned?
Yes and No, the PA Department of Environmental Resources has a guideline which must be followed to reduce toxic emissions from such controlled occurances. Permission must also be received and documented from Unity Township. Most people opt to pay someone to demolish and remove the structure after learning the requirements. We will need to inspect the proposed burn to see if there are any hazards present and will need to schedule a day when volunteers are available. We usually ask for a donation to cover truck fuel and wear and tear on equipment which is determined by the size of the job. We will NOT agree to any burns where there is any risk to other properties or utilities. The fire chief is the only person who can approve such a controlled burn. Again, most people find it is easier, less expensive and much quicker to pay someone to demolish and remove the debris.
I already pay a fire tax on my property, why should I also be asked to donate to my local fire companies?
Unity Township Supervisors instituted a 1 mil fire tax on all properties in Unity Township several years ago. This was done to help our volunteer fire departments with increasing expenses and their difficulty in raising funds. Our elected Supervisors helped to avert a problem volunteer fire companies are having across the Commonwealth and Nationwide, retaining and recruiting volunteer firefighters. The fire tax helps all the fire companies that service Unity Township giving each company some of the funds needed to operate. This tax money received from Unity Township only provides approximately 16% of the total annual operating expenses for our department. We cannot operate without additional donations and fundraising events.
How is my tax money spent and how is it accounted for?
Each fire company has received a set of guidelines on how this money can be utilized. One point reads “The primary objective of each fire company serving Unity Township shall be to purchase and/or maintain one reliable fire pumper truck, to purchase items to augment this truck with the appropriate NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) recommended equipment, and to make such purchases, required maintenance, and testing as shall provide the most applicable points toward the Insurance Service Office (I.S.O.) rating which is compiled for Unity Township.” Tax money cannot be used for clubs, social halls, or unauthorized purchases. Each volunteer fire company is required to provide the township auditors a listing of all expenditures made with such monies. Penalties or loss of funding will be enforced for fire companies who make unauthorized purchases.
What is the I.S.O. (Insurance Service Office) rating?
The insurance premium of every homeowner and business throughout the nation is determined by a number of things including a rating given to your municipal fire departments. This rating is determined by the ISO based on several of factors including number of fire pumper trucks, gallons of water per minute pumping capacity of each of the trucks, location/distance from your home to the closest fire station, the municipal water delivery system (location and gallons per minute flow from fire hydtants), number of aerial or ladder trucks, number of service trucks, training, average number of firefighters per call, equipment carried on trucks and a host of other items. Typically people who live in a city where there is a full time, well staffed, trained and equipped paid fire department located within a certain distance of their home likely will pay a lower insurance premium than someone who has a home in the country or on the mountain where there is no municipal water or fire hydrants and their fire station is a number of miles away. There are; however, a number of municipalities utilizing volunteer fire departments even in rural areas that have obtained better ratings than big city departments. Your local fire departments are quite aware of this rating and make purchases of trucks and equipment that will benefit the township’s ISO rating.
Why is it that I have city water service but there are no fire hydrants near my house?
Several years ago there was no requirement for the placement of fire hydrants except within new planned residential subdivisions. Our department along with the other members of the Unity Township Fire Bureau proposed a new ordinance to the Unity Township Supervisors whereby requiring fire hydrants be placed on ALL water line extensions and replacements at certain intervals. This new ordinance is now enacted to be sure fire hydrants will be placed in all future waterline projects; however, we have been unable to convince local leaders or the municipal authority to install hydrants on existing water lines.
How can I get a fire hydrant placed on the existing water line near my home?
Unity Township has in the past offered to pay ½ of the cost to install a new fire hydrant and the resident(s) or business owner(s) are required to provide the balance for its installation. We know that there are a number of areas where a fire hydrant is needed to protect homes and businesses but none currently exist. You need to call the township office for current costs and then try asking your neighbors and local businesses who would benefit from the hydrant to help pay the costs for a new hydrant installation. A fire hydrant within a certain distance gives us a great advantage when fighting any type of fire and it may also help to lower your insurance premium.
Is the property around the fire station available for public use?
The playground and walking track around the playground is owned by Unity Township. The rear parking lot, ballfield and walking track around the parking lot and ballfield is owned by PUVFD. The pavilion rentals are currently being handled by the Greater Latrobe, Unity, Youngstown Recreation Board. You can contact them for information and availability; however, either you or the recreation board must contact PUVFD to check on events scheduled at the PUVFD social hall or ballfield area. The rear parking lot is owned by the fire department and will be reserved for PUVFD social hall events if there is a conflict. There is no parking area for the playground or pavilion other than that owned by PUVFD. We installed lights around the walking track a few years ago for the conveinance of the people who use it. Feel free to use the track anytime! The ballfield has been used by a few local teams for practices, please call PUVFD to check availability.
Is the trash dumpster at the fire station for public use?
No, the dumpster is paid for monthly by our department, it is for trash from PUVFD and the PUVFD social hall. Please do not bring in trash to our dumpster, violators will be prosecuted.
Does PUVFD do any community service projects?
A. We are involved in the community in many ways. First we do annual fire prevention training and classes for various groups including church groups, scout packs and group homes. We also assist with the annual Halloween Parade and provide a Christmas Treat with Santa for our local children. There are also other events we participate in from time to time as requested.
REFLECTIVE ADDRESS SIGNS
Junior Firefighters are needed!! The fire companies that comprise the Unity Township Fire Bureau have initiated a Junior Firefighter Recruitment Campaign at the Greater Latrobe Senior High School. Please watch the short video produced by Greater Latrobe students to help with our campaign by clicking the link below.
Any prospective Junior Firefighter or their parents who have any questions may contact Chief John Bacha at firstname.lastname@example.org.