MCFRS News Release
Child Safety Seat Inspection Station Opens
“Keeping Kids Safe”
Fire & Rescue Partners with Safe Kids Montgomery County and
Criswell Chevrolet Car Dealership to
Provide County’s Second Safe Kids Inspection Station
Over 10,000 child passenger safety seats have been checked at Montgomery County’s first Child Passenger Safety Seat Inspection Station in Aspen Hill since it’s opening in 2002. Recently, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and Safe Kids Montgomery County were awarded a Pilot Child Safety Seat Inspection grant from Safe Kids Worldwide. In partnership with Criswell Chevrolet another Child Safety Seat Station will be opening in Montgomery County. The new child safety seat inspection center located at Criswell Chevrolet, 503 Quince Orchard Road, Gaithersburg will initially be opened the third (3rd) Saturday of every month from 1 - 4 p.m. and every Thursday evening from 7 - 9 p.m.
For the past five years an annual average of about 9,000 child safety seats have been checked in Montgomery County, including over 3,000 per year at the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Safe Kids car seat inspection station located in Aspen Hill. In conjunction with several local auto dealers, private businesses and Montgomery County workers, including police and fire/rescue personnel, in all over 60,000 child passenger safety seats have been checked since a county-wide initiative was established in 1998.
“Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading killer of children ages one to 14,” said Duncan. “Montgomery County, led by the fire and rescue service, has been committed for years to helping keep children safe from injury by making child safety seat inspections available, and the addition of another permanent inspection station will make that job that much easier and more accessible for our residents.”
Montgomery County Fire Chief Tom Carr advocates community risk reduction by wholeheartedly supporting the Child Passenger Safety Program and says, “The goal of this child safety program is more educational than anything else. It is not meant to be an installation service, instead firefighters and paramedics who are trained technicians (child passenger safety) explain to caregivers the correct way to use infant, toddler and booster seats.” Chief Carr adds, “The Criswell Chevrolet dealership provides a friendly and inviting environment for families to visit in order to participate in this program. This is a great public-private partnership that will save lives.”
A state law went into effect in 2003 that requires a child younger than 6 years (regardless of weight) or who weighs 40 pounds or less (regardless of age) to ride in a federally approved safety seat. The other Safe Kids Safe Kids child passenger safety seat inspection station, which is located at 14111 Georgia Avenue at the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) – Community Service Building is open by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the first Saturday of each month. Both inspection stations will be staffed by nationally certified child passenger safety technicians from Montgomery County’s Fire Rescue Service, other pubic safety partners as well as other dedicated volunteers.
“We are delighted that the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and other public safety agencies continue to team up with Safe Kids Montgomery County to provide the resources necessary to serve the community,” added Emilie Crown, Child Passenger Safety Seat Program Manager, “By providing regularly scheduled opportunities to get child safety seats inspected and be educated about their the use and installation, we hope that parents will take advantage of this unique service. At the same time we continue to see a decline in the number of children who are incorrectly restrained or not restrained at all.”
Montgomery County is one of only a few jurisdictions nationwide that has personnel specifically assigned and dedicated to occupant protection and child passenger safety seat (CPSS) training and inspection. Numerous public safety personnel are involved in the overall program, including firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Another local car dealer, Fitzgerald Auto Mall, has been very active for years and has been recognized for inspecting and or installing tens of thousands of child safety seats at their facility. The Fitzgerald Dealership conducts monthly scheduled car safety seat inspections involving many public safety personnel and other Montgomery County workers, in addition to their employees.
The new child safety seat inspection center located at Criswell Chevrolet, in Gaithersburg will initially be opened the third (3rd) Saturday of every month from 1 - 4 p.m. and every Thursday evening from 7 - 9 p.m., while the child safety seat inspection station in Aspen Hill will continue to be opened from 7:30 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the first Saturday of each month. Appointments are strongly recommended and given priority. Drop-ins will only be accommodated if time permits.
Appointments may be made by calling the Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service CPSS Hotline at 240-777- 2223. Car seat safety checks are also currently held monthly at various locations in Montgomery County, including Fitzgerald Auto Mall and weekly at Great Beginnings, a local retailer of infant and children’s items.
Trained safety specialists will check car seats for proper installation, age/size appropriateness and to determine if the seats have been damaged or recalled. New data suggests that passenger safety may be improving and shows that around 60-70% of seats checked in Montgomery County were used incorrectly. Previous data showed that 9 out of 10 seats were used incorrectly.
Montgomery County, Maryland is a national leader in child passenger safety activities and hosted the largest single, one-day safety seat inspection event on record. Since the program began in 1996, there have been dozens of reported cases where children have been involved in automobile crashes and were saved from potential injury because they were in a car seat installed by a child passenger safety technician in Montgomery County.