I wanted to let you know about the challenges my wife and I faced getting our infant car seat installed. After we bought our child car seat, we decided to have it installed by someone with a certification and experience. I heard that the DC Fire Department offers car seat installation, so I searched and found this flyer with the schedule of installation times and dates.
We saw that our local Engine Company 8 would have an installation opportunity on November 1. I called ahead to confirm that the schedule was accurate, and they said it was. But they also cautioned that “sometimes the installation team doesn’t show up.” We went to Engine Company 8 on November 1, but sure enough no one from the installation team ever came. One of the local firefighters tried to help but he was called away on an emergency, so we went home without the seat installed.
I called around a little more and was referred to a woman named Karen Gay at DDOT who coordinates their car seat program. Ms. Gay was very helpful – she always returned my calls and offered a lot of good information. She said that the DC government offered child car seat installation at the police station at 501 New York Ave NW every Tuesday from 10 am to 6 pm.
On Tuesday, November 25, I called Ms. Gay to confirm that we could get the car seat installed that day. She confirmed that we could, so my wife drove to the station. When she arrived, she was told that MPD cancelled the car seat installation because they wanted to use the space to detain people protesting the Ferguson grand jury decision. Apparently DC has the time and energy to incarcerate people protesting injustice, but not to ensure children’s safety.
We called Ms. Gay again and she apologized. Even though she was on vacation, she arranged for us to go to the Half Street Inspection Station in SW, where a gentleman named Larry Walker finally installed the seat for us. It took less than 15 minutes.
After several weeks of effort, three separate trips, and about a dozen phone calls, we were finally able to get a certified DC safety expert to install our child car seat. But it shouldn’t be that hard. Not all parents have the time to make several fruitless trips across town and to follow up with phone calls. Moreover, parents should know that the Saturday installation schedule I linked to above is inaccurate and unreliable.
This may seem a minor problem to some, but to new parents it’s a big deal. I’ve reached out to my councilmember to alert him of our difficulties and hopefully the city will get this sorted out in the future.”