Searcy Fire Dept. documenting city's storm shelters for safety

    7:16 PM, Jun 20, 2013   |    comments
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    SEARCY, Ark. (KTHV)- The Searcy Fire Department has launched a program that could help save lives in the event of severe weather.

    Citizens can now register their residential or commercial storm shelters with the city; this creates a database that first responders hope they never have to use.

    Firefighter and emergency management coordinator for the city of Searcy, Doug Baker, explained that first responders have roles that stretch much farther than wrecks and house fires.

    "We would do the door-to-door search (for people)," he explained, discussing actions in the wake of a tornado or severe weather. "We would go house-to-house and search for people who need to be rescued or people who need treatment or care."

    Baker hopes that a database of storm shelters in the city will prevent his department from ever having to deal with the confusion that happened after the Moore tornado last month.

    "We noticed in Moore, Oklahoma they reported several, almost 100 people missing and one of the reasons they were missing was because they were trapped in their storm shelter."

    Survivors were unable to escape their safe place due to debris blocking the exit. Because of that, Baker said he decided Searcy needed a list of their storm shelters. He said knowing where storm shelters exist will make their job less complicated after a tornado.

    "We'll be able to search for people that may be in those storm shelters," Baker explained.

    The fire department is asking residents to register their shelter by calling the fire department by calling 501-207-5789. No name or phone number is needed, just an address.

    "(We need to know) do they have a safe room, do they have an in ground shelter or do they have a basement that they're using for that type of deal and a location of where it is on that property."

    Conway is also working on compiling a list of storm shelters in the city.



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