The Decorah Fire Department and the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce have teamed together in an effort to collect contact information from area business.

The information is being collected voluntarily. It will be placed on file at both the Decorah Fire Department and Decorah Police Department Dispatch, for use in contacting business owners or their primary employees who could assist the department in accessing the business without destroying property. All contact information will be kept confidential and only be used in an emergency.

The Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce has placed a link on its website decorahareachamber.com called "Fire Department Response Form." Clicking on the link accesses an online form that asks who is filling out the form, business name, address, owner, business phone and e-mail.

The last part of the form requests the most important information, according to Steve Vanden Brink, public information officer for the Decorah Fire Department. It asks for after-hours primary emergency contact information and secondary contact information. Businesses can provide more than one secondary contact.

The form also requests information on fire alarm systems in place at the business, such as smoke alarms, heat detectors or sprinkler systems.

"This information will be kept confidential and only used to contact you in an emergency," Vanden Brink said.

Having an up-to-date contact list will be a valuable time resource when an alarm or incident occurs after normal business hours, he said.

"When we have a smoke alarm going off without signs of a large uncontrolled fire, we prefer not to damage property for a faulty alarm. However, if we cannot contact someone from the property to let us in we may have no choice but to force entry into the building to ensure there is no fire. Our intentions would be to limit the damage to the entry point," Vanden Brink said.

"With more landline phones being dropped for cell phones, which aren't listed in a phone book, it is harder for our dispatchers and fire fighters to contact business owners about emergencies with their buildings," Decorah Fire Department Chief Mike Ashbacher said. "Thank you for assisting the Fire Department in collecting this important information to aid us in our response."

For more information, or to express concerns, contact Vanden Brink at 563-382-3472 or 563-380-2581, or e-mail dfd@decorahia.org.