MCFRS News Release

Child Safety Seat Inspections

Keeping Kids Safe”

Fire & Rescue Partners with SafeKidsMontgomeryCounty and Local Car Dealerships

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.

For the past five years an average of about 9,000 child safety seats have been checked annually 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 75,000 child passenger safety seats have been checked since a county-wide initiative was established 10 years ago in 1998. Nearly 35,000 of those checked were done in conjunction with a local car dealership.

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 regularly scheduled car safety seat inspections involving many public safety personnel and other Montgomery County workers, in addition to their own employees. 

Additionally, the Great Beginnings Store and Criswell Chevrolet, both in Gaithersburg participate in scheduled child safety seat inspections.

“Most children properly secured in child safety seats are safer than ever, especially when parents seek advice from certified car seat technicians.  However motor vehicle crashes remain the leading killer of children ages one to 14,” says Fire Chief Richard Bowers. “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 has made that job that much easier and more accessible for our residents.”

Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers 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 Bowers adds, “The Fitzgerald Auto Mall and Criswell Chevrolet dealerships both provide 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 5 years ago 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.

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). 

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 regularly at various locations in Montgomery County, including Fitzgerald Auto Mall, in Rockville and weekly at Great Beginnings, in Gaithersburg, a local retailer of infant and children’s items and at Criswell Chevrolet, an auto dealership, in Gaithersburg.
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 (90%) were used incorrectly.  Even so, today’s passengers are safer than ever due to a number of safety features inherent to most vehicles.

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 1998, 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.