It’s red and black and fits nicely under a fire engine’s backseat. It’s full of all the supplies needed to install smoke alarms. It’s the “Clutter Bag”!
Named for Firefighter Max Clutter, the bag was his probationary (first year) firefighter project. He set out to create a smoke alarm installation kit to streamline the process of checking for working smoke alarms in homes after responding to an emergency medical services (EMS) call.
“I wanted to make it easier by having all the tools and supplies for installing smoke alarms in one place, instead of in different places on the engine,” Firefighter Clutter explained. “By having the best, easy-to-use tools all in one place, I felt like it would be more user-friendly for our crews to perform this simple but important service for our community.”
Clutter compiled and priced out a list of supplies and equipment. With the support of Prevention Division head Fire Marshal Greg Rogers, Clutter assembled a prototype kit for the crew on Engine 1. The test was a success and the Clutter Bag has been replicated and recently installed on all fire apparatus. Each Clutter Bag includes smoke alarms, batteries, a handheld power drill and bits, screws, electrical tape, a sharpie pen (to note the date on the alarm – expires every 10 years) and educational materials.
Crews will soon receive updated smoke alarm installation training to ensure consistency with current industry best practices. Research shows that 3 of 5 home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. The Clutter Bag and the SVFD Prevention Division’s Home Fire Safety Visit program aim to create safer homes in the community we serve.
On September 15, 2016, Firefighter Max Clutter received a SVFD Meritorious Service Medal for “his dedication and tireless attention to detail in the continued development and implementation of the smoke alarm installation program. Firefighter Clutter has been a passionate advocate for community risk reduction and fire safety, and his actions have directly contributed to the protection of our citizens by providing a means for the Department to assist in early detection and alerting during a fire event in the home.”
Clutter has been a Spokane Valley Fire Department firefighter since July 2015. In 2014, he earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Fire Science Technology from Spokane Community College. Clutter previously worked as a firefighter for the Idaho Department of Lands and Shoshone County Fire District #2. He was born and raised in Post Falls, Idaho.