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The Westwood Fire Department, under the command of Fire Chief William Haffler, was called 24 times for emergency assistance during September, logging 380 hours of volunteer time.

None of the calls turned out to be serious fires.

By the numbers, there were four department drills, three maintenance sessions and 15 automatically activated fire alarms.

Although no fires existed at any of these incidents, a full fire department response is required. Firefighters check the entire building to determine if there's a fire.

Four times last month the alarms were set off by cooking smoke. No cause for the alarm activations were found at three calls. Alarms were set off three times by workers in the building: twice by cleaning operations and once by a welder.

Diesel exhaust drifting into commercial buildings set off two alarms, and a curling iron that was left on a bed started to smolder, triggering smoke detectors to activate at another incident. 

Two fire department responses were for carbon monoxide alarms. Again, each call required a full fire department response. Fire crews checked the entire building with meters and determined that one alarm was for a dead battery in the detector and the other was a malfunctioning stove. The occupancies were turned over to PSE&G for further investigation.

Twice the Westwood Fire Department was called to the smell of natural gas. One incident was from a citizen smelling gas from PSE&G gas crews working in the area; at the other, fire crews checked the building with meters and found no cause for the smell.

On the afternoon of Sept. 25, a citizen out for a walk was struck by a falling tree. He was trapped until emergency responders freed him. Police, fire and emergency medical services worked together to free him. He was taken to a local hospital.

The Westwood Fire Department and Fire Prevention Bureau would like to remained residents that even though Oct. 8-14 was National Fire Prevention Week, residents and citizens should practice fire prevention all year.

The department offers the following safety tips:

Maintain smoke detectors. Have one in working order on every level of your home.

Have a fire escape plan for your home and workspace. The plan must show at least two ways out of every room.

Practice exit drills with your family. Crawl low in smoke. If a door is hot, don't open it- use the emergency exit. Identify a meeting space outside your home. Make sure everyone is out. Do not go back inside for any reason. Call 911 from outside the home. 

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