The fire departments of Chappaqua and Millwood are backing a fire safety talk, called "Ask the Chief," that will be held tonight at the Chappaqua Library.
The event will include a fire alarms presentation, and false alarms will be a topic of focus for the night. People in the audience can then ask questions about any fire safety topic, which starts at 7:30 p.m.
Russell Maitland, Chappaqua's first assistant chief, noted that outreach is important, saying that "an educated public is a safer public."
False alarms are problematic for firefighters, Maitland says, arguing that they hurt morale and can endanger the public.
"It certainly taxes our resources," Maitland said.
In 2012, the Chappaqua Fire Department responded to about 550 calls, Maitland said, with around 250 of them being false alarms.
"It's an opportunity to the community to get to know us better," said Greg Santone, Millwood's fire assistant chief, and adding that is true in the reverse. The idea for the talk came from Chappaqua, he said, but Millwood's fire department was invited to join in.
One challenge for Millwood in dealing with false alarms is to elimate repeat offenses, Santone explained. However, he noted that they have been caused not through malicious means but by other factors, such as kitchen smoke or shower steam. Santone said that better installation could alleviate the situation.
In 2012, Santone said, Millwood had about 350 calls, with about 40-45 percent of them being false alarms, meaning alarms that did not necessitate firefighting.
Another benefit that could come out from the talk is the possibility of signing up new volunteer firefighters, according to Maitland and Santone.