What to Know
- Fort Worth has an infant mortality rate higher than the national average.
- Firefighters will also have free cribs to give to families who are not able to provide the proper, safe sleep situations.
- The firefighters are also trained to approach the situation with awareness and make sure parents know they are there to help and not judge
The Fort Worth Fire Department is preparing to embark on an enhanced initiative that could save the lives of babies across the city.
Fort Worth has an infant mortality rate higher than the national average which has prompted new fire chief James Davis to tackle the issue from the inside.
All 925 firefighters in the department will be trained to spot warning signs of infants in hazardous sleep situations in their homes. Firefighters will also have free cribs to give to families who are not able to provide the proper, safe sleep situations.
"It’s a wicked problem in the community and it’s going to take a community solution to solve," Davis said. "Over 100,000 times a year, the Fort Worth Fire Department is invited into people’s homes to solve their problems."
The cribs are donated by the Tarrant Baptist Association and each battalion chief will have at least one at their station.
The fire department is working with Cook Children’s Medical Center to craft the training and what the firefighters should look for when visiting a home.
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"Kids should be [sleeping] alone [and not sleeping with parents or siblings]. They should be on their back and they should be in a crib and that crib should be free of any type of obstruction such as toys and stuffed animals," Davis said.
The firefighters are also trained to approach the situation with awareness to make sure parents know that they are there to help and not judge.
"It’s not a penalty. It’s not a threat of taking your kids away. It is working with the community," Davis said.
The effort could soon stretch to other Fort Worth first responder agencies.
"We’ve had great cooperation with Fort Worth Police. We’re going to reach out to them and from MedStar as well," Davis said. "Between the three of us out in the community every day, it’s going to add another 3,500 sets of eyes that are touching families."
There is also the added advantage of giving information to the firefighters themselves.
"We’re also educating 925 firefighters who could have kids in this situation," department representative Mike Drivdahl said. "The last thing you ever want as a firefighter is to be responding to an accident in your own home."