Hilton Head Island is a Fire Safe Community, a designation our town has received for three years in row from Fire Safe South Carolina. This means we are a community that strives to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries.

The credit goes to our highly trained men and women of Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue and the services they provide to our resident population and visitors. They accomplish this with consistent training that decreases fire risks for residents and firefighters, disseminating fire prevention messages throughout the community, and visiting neighborhoods to educate and distribute fire alarms.

Fire Rescue continuously shares information about their programs with the public and I want to reiterate some of them here.

Home safety inspections. Did you know that our Fire Rescue staff will walk through your home with you to make sure it is safe? This is great for citizens who might not know if their home is fire safe. Families and individuals can do their own safety checks using our Fire Safety Checklist, which can be downloaded from the public safety page on the town’s website, hiltonheadislandsc.gov.

Already this year, we have had 18 fires where people live. Some of those have led to families being displaced. Some of the most common fires in our community involve cooking and grilling.

Fire in the Streets. Six out of 10 residential fire deaths occur in homes without smoke alarms. Fire in the Streets is a fantastic program that connects Fire Rescue personnel to the community to visit homes and properly install alarms.

Already this year, they have installed 69 alarms in households that lacked them and changed 49 alarm batteries. They educate homeowners so they know what to do in case the smoke alarm activates.

Free smoke alarm program. Call the fire and life safety office at 843-682-5141 to see if you are eligible. The smoke alarm(s) and batteries are installed by Fire Rescue personnel at no cost to the resident. Also, if you can’t reach a smoke alarm to change the batteries, contact that office for help and guidance.

Fire hydrant inspections. There are 2,521 fire hydrants located around the island. Annually between March and May, Fire Rescue personnel inspect all the hydrants to make sure they work properly and correct any problems they find.

Geocaching for Fire Safety. Geocaching is a fun way to learn about fire safety. You can use this real-world, outdoor treasure hunt activity to learn fire and life safety tips while visiting our fire stations. Each of seven fire stations and our Fire Rescue headquarters participates in this game. For more information, visit geocaching.com.

Fire Station 2. I would be remiss if I didn’t congratulate our Fire Rescue Department on the grand opening and dedication of the new Fire Station Two at 65 Lighthouse Road, near The Shops at Sea Pines Center. Although the facility opened in June 2021, the grand opening was delayed until June 3 of this year due to COVID-19. Originally built in 1972, Fire Station Two is the oldest operating fire house on the Island.

John McCann is the mayor of the Town of Hilton Head Island. JohnM@hiltonheadislandsc.gov