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Hinesville Fire Department scald awareness prevention program begins
Firefighters Mike Scoggins and Bobby Williams test the temperature of the water in Marion Foerstel's home as Mayor Jim Thomas and Councilman Bobby Ryon look on. - photo by Photo provided / Coastal Courier
On May 8 the Hinesville Fire Department began a program to help prevent scalding and to inform the public about the dangers of scalding burns.
The program has firefighters going door-to-door to check the temperature of hot water in homes to see if it is set at a safe level. If they determine the setting is too high and the water poses a danger to residents, the firefighters recommend contacting a professional to lower the setting. The firefighters only make recommendations and don't touch the water heater.  
Along with Mayor Jim Thomas and City Councilman Bobby Ryon, members of the department kicked off the program at Grove Point Apartments, and were able to test 17 of the 45 apartments.
During the checks at the retirement complex, of the 17 tested, three had temperatures too high. One of the apartments had the temperature set at 134 degrees, 14 degrees above the highest recommended setting.
After the firefighters completed the test, site manager Donna Rowe and maintenance manager Otis Jones adjusted all of the water heaters to a safe setting.
Marion Foerstel, a Grove Point resident, said, "We are blessed to have a fire department like the one we have. We know you're here for us, and we appreciate all you do."
The hot water in her apartment was at a safe 108 degrees.
Another resident, Rosa Starkey, whose water was also safe at 112 degrees, said, "I think a program like this is good, I'm glad to know that the fire department is looking out for us."
Every year, there are about 112,000 people treated in hospital emergency rooms with scalds, and of them about 6 percent are hospitalized.
Scalds are most common in children younger than 5, adults 65 and older and for people who have special needs. Many of these accidents result from the hot water in homes being above 120 degrees.
Ryon, who represents HFD to the council, said, "This new program is one of the many great programs that the fire department offers. This one is especially good, because it can help protect out children and our elderly."
Thomas said he was pleased with new program and the department's ability to get safety information out to the public.
"Whether it is the fire department, the police department, OMI or any other department in the city, it is important for the people in the community to see your faces, to know what you are doing," the mayor said.
He added, "Having programs like this is great for the city, and it is reflective of the good personnel we have at the department. We are fortunate to have such a strong fire department".
Members of the department who also were on hand to initiate the program were Chief Lamar Cook and Capt. Andra' Hart, while the members who conducted the tests at the retirement complex were Firefighter's Mike Scoggins and Bobby Williams.
The service is free and available to all city residents.  Firefighters will canvass neighborhoods Monday-Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. But if you need to schedule an appointment, arrangements will be made.
For more information, call the department at 876-4142 and ask for Hart.
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