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Fire Station 2 wins health and safety recognition

Shown are Nelson D. Edwards Jr. and Gary Thorpe of the N.C. Labor Department, city HR coordinator Lu Ann Welter, Fire Chief D. James Miller, N.C. Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson, Mayor Barbara Volk, City Manager John Connet, Lee McKinney, Labor Department. Shown are Nelson D. Edwards Jr. and Gary Thorpe of the N.C. Labor Department, city HR coordinator Lu Ann Welter, Fire Chief D. James Miller, N.C. Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson, Mayor Barbara Volk, City Manager John Connet, Lee McKinney, Labor Department.

N.C. Department of Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson visited Hendersonville Wednesday to recognize the inclusion of Fire Station 2 into the state’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program.

“I congratulate the employees of the Hendersonville Fire Department for achieving this high honor,” Dobson said. “The process for SHARP certification is rigorous and requires commitment and perseverance from everyone in the department. These public servants should be commended for their dedication to the safety and well-being of one another, as well as for their ongoing commitment to community safety through the department’s fire and emergency response services.”

The N.C. Department of Labor’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) is administered through the Consultative Bureau of the Occupational Safety and Health Division. It is designed for small and mid-size employers that have established, implemented and maintained exceptional workplace safety standards. Currently, there are 169 SHARP designated entities in North Carolina divided into General Industry, Public Sector, Construction, and Logging categories. There are no other SHARP designations in Henderson, Polk, or Transylvania counties, and only one in Buncombe County.

“The city of Hendersonville is committed to providing safe workplaces for our employees,” said Mayor Barbara Volk. “Fire Station No. 2’s achievement of this designation is something of which we are very proud. It represents a unified effort to build a culture of safety and our fire department is leading the way.”

In October 2019, the city of Hendersonville asked to take part in the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Consultative Services program. The program involved on-site inspections of city facilities, trainings, practices, and procedures. Over eight months, the program’s consultants noted hazards and provided suggestions of best practices to the city along with deadlines to fix or improve deficiencies. Throughout this process, the city, across all departments, spent around $8,000 improving safety. The consultants recommended Fire Station #2 go an extra step and move into the SHARP program. The Fire Department completed the additional site visit and documentation and received a score that made them eligible for the program.

“I want to recognize HR Coordinator Lu Ann Welter and our Fire Department staff for working together to accomplish this status,” Fire Chief D. James Miller said. “Lu Ann has been instrumental in promoting safety across our entire organization.” Miller highlighted the efforts undertaken by operational staff to implement the recommendations provided by the NCDOL consultants. These steps included improving the work environment, adjusting the storage of chemicals, revising policies to promote best practices and other updates throughout the station.