The Woodlawn Fire Department does more than fight fires and respond to emergencies. The department is proactive in finding ways to connect with residents and help the communities it serves.
“Woodlawn Fire is great about partnering with other organizations and groups to bring residents important services such as smoke detector installations and car seat fittings,” said Cristie Iwasko, senior health educator with Hamilton County Public Health. “The department is also active with WeTHRIVE! in Woodlawn, which provides even more access to potential partnerships and connections that can have a positive impact on the WeTHRIVE! communities of Woodlawn and Lincoln Heights.”
As a firefighter paramedic with Woodlawn, Bailey Stafford has been a member of the Woodlawn WeTHRIVE! team for more than two years.
“There are lots of benefits to getting out in the community and having the residents be comfortable with us,” Bailey said. “It’s kind of a big deal, especially in today’s society, to allow people to come into your house. A lot of people are private. So it’s a privilege to be able to go into our community, and have residents who are comfortable with us doing that.”
Bailey says the department went door-to-door in June 2021 to make sure residents know about the programs and services available to them. “We had a door-hanger blitz where we covered every house in Woodlawn and Lincoln Heights,” she said.
Here are some of the programs the Woodlawn Fire Department offers the community:
Child passenger safety
It’s estimated that 46 percent of car seats and booster seats are not used correctly. That’s a big problem when it comes to keeping kids safe in the event of an accident.
Woodlawn recently became an official car seat fitting station, certified by the Comprehensive Children’s Injury Center at Cincinnati Children’s. Residents of Woodlawn and Lincoln Heights can make an appointment to have their car seat checked and installed by one of the department’s newly certified Car Seat Technicians.
Technicians go through extensive training by Cincinnati Children’s. They’ll make sure you have the proper car seat for your child’s age, height, and weight. They install the car seat, and teach you to properly install it yourself.
Safe Place for youth in crisis
The Woodlawn Fire Department is recognized as a Safe Place where youth in need can get immediate help. “There is a sign that we have posted on the fire house and it’s a universal sign for youth to recognize that this is a safe place to go,” Bailey explained.
To be a Safe Place, the department went through training with Lighthouse Youth & Family Services, a partnership facilitated by WeTHRIVE! “If there is a youth who is in distress, they can come to the fire house to seek refuge,” Bailey explained. “We make a phone call to Lighthouse and take care of them until the Lighthouse representative gets there.”
Sound the alarm
In 2020, the department installed 45 smoke detectors in residents’ homes as part of Sound the Alarm, an American Red Cross program. The Red Cross provides free smoke detectors and fire department personnel install them free of charge for any resident.
Bailey said the department also goes on smoke detector blitzes where they go door to door in Woodlawn and Lincoln Heights to offer this free service. Last year, the Woodlawn Fire Department installed more smoke detectors than other area fire departments, including the city of Cincinnati.
Sound the Alarm is a win-win for residents and the department. “A huge benefit for having our firefighters install the smoke detectors is that it helps us give back to the community,” Bailey said. “But it also helps us become familiar with our residents’ homes as well, so we can pre-plan for safety … Like if there are hoarding conditions and we didn’t know about it, we can note that, so that as a fire department if we ever get a fire there or get a call there we can be better prepared.”
Miss Mary’s Garden is the dream of Mary A. Wagner, a long-time member of the Woodlawn WeTHRIVE! team. (Read about this community garden here.)
“Every year, the fire department helps prepare the garden,” Bailey said. “We weed it, mulch it, and water it since there is no water hookup near the garden. In return, when Miss Mary harvests, she always brings us something delicious.”
The garden also connects the fire department to children in the community, as tending the garden is part of Woodlawn Recreation Center’s summer camp program.
(The photo at the top of this page is shows firefighters and fire explorers doing some end-of-season cleanup on Miss Mary’s Garden.)
The Woodlawn Fire Department offers many other programs and services to the community, including:
- Put a Lid On It: The department gives out free bike helmets through this program from the Ohio chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Vial of Life: A free program to keep important health information where emergency responders can find it when a resident is unable to communicate.
- Fire Explorers: A free program that gives young people hands-on experience to see if they want to pursue a career in firefighting or emergency services.
We asked Bailey if this makes Woodlawn Fire Department unique. “It’s not that it can only be done in Woodlawn,” she answered. “It can be done anywhere. Chief [Amos] Johnson is super open-minded. He wants to move his department forward with the times that are going on. It gets us out there, and there’s a lot of benefits to getting out in the community and having the residents be comfortable with us.”
For more information about any of the programs mentioned, call the Woodlawn Fire Department at 513-771-0233.
Learn more about WeTHRIVE! in Woodlawn by visiting WatchUsThrive.org/Woodlawn.