Westover Fire Department approved as Safe Place

Published 4:19 pm Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Westover women, children and young adults who need help during family troubles now have a place to go.

The Westover Fire Department has been approved as a location for Family Connection’s Safe Place program.

Fire Chief Tim Honeycutt said the department got involved in the program to offer yet another service for Westover citizens.

“We felt that in times of crisis, people needed to know that obviously you can come to us. They needed to know that we do participate in the Safe Place program,” Honeycutt said.

Honeycutt also works at the Pelham Fire Department, which is also a Safe Place location. He said he’s seen how well Safe Place has been received in Pelham, and decided to make that a priority after becoming the Westover Fire Chief in February.

Westover Fire Department staff will go through mandatory Safe Place training sometime during the next two weeks to learn how to handle situations in which people are looking for help.

Honeycutt said in such a situation, the department serves as a middleman to put people that need help in contact with Family Connection.

“We’ve never had this availability before in the community, and we wanted to be a part of that and let people know this program is out there,” he said.

Safe Place Coordinator Carol Williams said the Westover Fire Department is fulfilling a need in the area by becoming a Safe Place.

“Westover was an area where we didn’t have any sites. The closest place was Chelsea,” she said.

Fire departments are excellent Safe Place locations because of the level of trust communities place in them, she said.

“Across the country, the majority of Safe Places are fire departments. You usually have someone there 24 hours a day. They’re very well-staffed and ready to help someone who needs help or is hurt,” she said. “The other thing with fire departments is that they talk to youth in different parts of the country, and many of (the youth) said they’re more comfortable going up to a firefighter, sometimes more so than a policeman.”

The Westover Fire Department is the 71st Safe Place site in Shelby County, Hoover and Irondale. The department is one of several fire departments that are Safe Places, including Chelsea, Pelham, North Shelby, Hoover, Calera, Alabaster and Irondale.