Child safety seat inspections available at Chelsea Fire Department

The Chelsea Fire Department conducts free child safety seat inspections and installations for residents every day during normal business hours. (Reporter Photo/Emily Sparacino)

The Chelsea Fire Department conducts free child safety seat inspections and installations for residents every day during normal business hours. (Reporter Photo/Emily Sparacino)

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

CHELSEA – Parents wanting to make sure their children’s safety seats are properly installed in their vehicles can find help at the Chelsea Fire Department.

All full-time employees at the fire department are certified through the Alabama Fire College to conduct free child safety seat inspections and installations.

The department had several employees trained to handle child safety seat inspections previously, but not enough to ensure at least one certified employee would be on every shift, Public Information Officer Paul Williams said.

“Chief (Wayne) Shirley decided he wanted to provide this service to the residents of Chelsea,” Williams said. “Now that we’ve had all the full-time guys trained, then we should always have someone available.”

Williams said inspections take about 15-30 minutes depending on the vehicle and type of seat.

Adults are urged to try installing the seat according to the manual before they come to the department for an inspection, and they need to bring all informational materials for the safety seat along with the owner’s manual for the vehicle, Lt. Don Williamson said.

“We really want all the information that came with the seat and the owner’s manual,” Williamson said. “That way, it is installed with manufacturer’s recommendations on the car and the seat. It is strictly benefiting young infants and children because most of the time the seats are installed improperly, and that directly impacts the child.”

Williams said buying a new child safety seat is safer than buying it used.

“We always recommend buying a new seat. We really discourage buying used seats mainly because they don’t know the history of the seat,” he said. “The life of a seat is only five to seven years.”

Williamson said people should send in the warranty cards that come with new seats so they are notified of recalls.

Williamson also noted child safety seats deteriorate over time and should be discarded and not used again if they are damaged or in a vehicle wreck.

“Just like a bicycle helmet, it’s a one-time use item,” Williamson said.

No appointment for inspections is necessary, but calling ahead is encouraged.

Department employees are available for inspections every day during normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We do it other times as well,” Williamson said. “It’s really important, and we encourage as many people to come by as possible because that is a very valuable passenger.”

For more information, call the Chelsea Fire Department at (205) 678-6060.

“We want to try to make things safer in the city and provide education,” Williams said. “We just want to educate everybody and let them know we have certified people. That’s important to us because we care about the residents.”