City discontinues lock-out program

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By Traci Chapman

It’s a fact of life people lock their keys in their car and in small communities that can mean a firefighter will help unlock the vehicle as a courtesy.

That has been a long-standing practice in Mustang, but as the city has grown, so too has the demand for a service that now consumes almost 20 percent of all calls made by Mustang Fire Department, City Manager Tim Rooney said. The city’s growth – and the need to address life-threatening situations – has led to a discontinuation of the “routine” vehicle lock-out service performed by firefighters as of June 1.

“From Jan. 1, 2014, through March 231, 2014, the fire department responded to 104 requests to assist our citizens in getting their vehicles unlocked,” Rooney said last week. “While that averages a little bit more than one call a day, there have been as many as four calls a day during that same time period.

“It’s becoming an overwhelming situation, and we are not talking about lock-outs that involve risk to a person or pet,” the city manager said.

Those totals represent a constant, and increasing, demand for lock-out help, Rooney said.

The program’s strain on city resources involved manpower, use of equipment and fuel to transport firefighters to the scene of the lock-out and other time and costs, Rooney said. The practice also was disruptive, frequently interrupting training or other activities scheduled by the department, Rooney said.

“The city of Mustang emergency services will, of course, continue to respond to calls in which a child, adult or pet is in danger as a result of keys being locked in the car, but we have no choice but to stop a program that’s draining resources for non-emergency purposes,” he said.

For more information, call the city of Mustang at 376-4521, check its website or refer to Channel 20, Rooney said.

“We always want to offer as many services as we can to our citizens but we have to be prudent, not only with our personnel but also with our taxpayer dollars because, in the end, they are the ones who are paying for us to respond to those non-emergency calls,” he said.