The risks of safety bars during an emergency rescue - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

The risks of safety bars during an emergency rescue

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -  Homeowners install safety bars to protect themselves from intruders. But as Chattanooga firefighters saw Thursday morning, family members living at a home on Crutchfield Street were trapped inside by the same bars meant to protect them.

"It does help keep people out who are trying to break in, but at the same time it'll keep you in when you're trying to get out as well," said Sgt. Daniel Francis.

Police officers finally got ahold of a crowbar to rescue three family members, including a nine-month old child, who were trapped by safety bars inside their burning home.
This case has the Chattanooga Fire Department encouraging homeowners to take a look at their windows and ensure a safe exit in the event of a fire.

"That creates a delay that we really can't afford," said Lt. Chuck Hartung, Asst. Fire Marshal, "Homeowners need to understand if they have functioning burglar bars that will open from a release on the inside, they can escape on their own and  the burglar bars still do their job of offering security to the homeowner."
Firefighters carry tools, like a bolt cutter and ax, to help them get inside a burning building. But that takes time.

"We look at different ways of overcoming these obstacles and not looking at them as something impossible for us to get through," said Lt. Hartung, "But just take a little time, think about it, and actually think of way to get through that problem."    

Lt. Hartung says if homeowners can afford swinging safety bars, they can save a life.

"It comes down to a matter of cost," Lt. Hartung said, "Functioning burglar bars do cost more than an actual burglar bar that is attached to the structure."

Firefighters say they've seen all kinds of obstacles, from chain-linked fences to overgrown shrubs that block exits.
But it's not always what is on the outside that keeps them from getting in.

"We encounter all kinds of different...overcrowding... of a home," Lt. Hartung said, "Whether it be furniture or just people that collect things."

Regardless of what tools first responders carry with them, maybe the most valuable is for all families to have an exit plan for all areas of the home.

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