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Wilm. Fire Dept. announces initiative to help save lives if high-rise fire occurs

Delaware Public Media

A new Wilmington Fire Department initiative looks to prevent tragedies like those seen elsewhere in city multi-residential high rises and apartments.

The Play Your Part campaign is the fire department’s initiative to bring safety awareness to Wilmington high rises and multi-unit apartment complexes.

The department analyzed multi-residential apartment fires in New York City and Philadelphia and identified that keeping interior doors closed will reduce smoke and fire spread as well as give residents time to evacuate.

Play Your Part will focus on high risk multi-residential units, and be an ongoing program inspecting properties to confirm that auto-door closure devices are functioning according to Wilmington Fire Department spokesman Lt. Laurence Hinds.

"We made the list and we prioritized it and put a plan in place and even today as we speak we are working on that list and literally going to every building and checking every single door to make sure not only does it have a door closer that it functions properly and operates in a matter that will be effective in the event of a fire or emergency situation," said Hinds.

So far, eight properties have been inspected and 76 doors out of 561 were not functioning properly. Hinds explains what happens next.

"There will be a re-inspection, but only on those doors that failed the inspection in the first place. And then moving forward we'll be probably doing this on an annual basis or every two-year basis because right today doesn't mean it's right tomorrow unfortunately. As occupants change and times change and these things do malfunction and fail and people do add things the doors that they don't think affect the door closing like door sweeps," said Hinds.

Residents are also being asked to Play Your Part by checking the working condition of smoke detectors twice a year, keep doors in a residence closed when sleeping to contain smoke and fire, and create an emergency plan.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.