How Allen Fire Department empowers every citizen to save lives.
Allen Fire Chief Jon Boyd knows the value of special equipment. In fact, his department purchased $1.1 million of it last year alone—including extrication tools to free trapped drivers in seconds, thermal imagers to illuminate signs of life in a dark or smoke-filled room, air packs to offer a safe escape, and two customized vehicles to transport crews and their gear.
However, he believes the most important tool—knowledge—shouldn’t be limited to Allen’s 99 first responders.
“We’ve all heard stories of preschoolers calling 9-1-1 or teens performing CPR on a classmate,” said Chief Boyd. “That’s because, at some point, someone taught them how.”
Boyd began his new role as chief last August after more than two decades of service in the Allen Fire Department. Right away, he green-lit numerous educational programs geared toward all ages. Preschoolers bond with Franklin, the department’s pint-sized robotic truck. Older kids giggle through fire safety lessons taught by staff dressed as clowns, movie stars and video game characters. And in January, Allen Fire Department launched a free community CPR class to teach life-saving skills to ages ten and up.
To date, more than 1,100 residents have completed it. Chief Boyd is aiming higher.
“My goal is for every capable Allen citizen to know CPR,” he says.
Staff previously geared programming toward children. But a look at department call data has pulled focus to the opposite end of life.
“Around 70% of our calls are to senior living facilities,” said Chief Boyd. “Clearly, this is an audience where information can make a big impact.”
A senior education program featuring lessons in cooking safety, fall prevention and what to do during fire alarms will launch this summer. The department is also preparing to distribute 400 Stop the Bleed kits, a wall-mounted collection of bandages, gloves, emergency blankets and trauma shears aimed at saving lives in a large-scale disaster.
“You can’t predict where the next emergency will happen, but there is safety in numbers,” said Chief Boyd. “The more people we train, the more likely it is that one of them will be nearby when it counts.”