PREBLE COUNTY — Fire Prevention Week was Sunday, Oct. 7 through Saturday, Oct. 13. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) this year’s theme was “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware — fire can happen anywhere.”
According to NFPA, through three simple calls-to-action, this year’s theme identifies basic, but essential ways people can reduce their risks to fire and be prepared in the event of one:
•Look for places fire can start.
•Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm.
•Learn two ways out of each room.
Several Preble County Fire departments chose to host educational events during Fire Prevention Week, all with the intention of better informing the public of what to do in the event of a fire.
West Alexandria Fire/EMS held programs at a West Alexandria day care and Twin Valley South Elementary School during the week. The department will be putting on a program for a home school group on Wednesday, Oct. 24.
“[We] will be stressing to children [to locate] two ways out, [their] fire escape plan, where their meeting place is once they get out, and to never go back in once they leave home. [We] will also stress working smoke detectors and stop drop and roll,” West Alexandria Fire Chief Jeff Shafer said. “[We] will have a firefighter don his or her gear with an air pack so they can see and hear what we sound like with air packs on. [We] will teach them to yell so few can find them. [We] will let them board apparatus and actually hold a hose with a fire fighter and spray water.”
“In Ohio alone age 14 and under make up 10 to 15 percent of all fire deaths,” Shafer said. “More than half of all child fire deaths happen to children under the age of five. Boys are at a higher risk of death from fire than girls. Fire injuries happen most often to those under age four. [We can] never can get enough education out to anyone concerning fire safety.”
The Village of Lewisburg held a Fire, Police & Service Open House on Saturday, Oct. 13. They hosted a free breakfast served by the mayor and village council members, free hot dogs and refreshments for lunch, and gave out goodie bags and wrist bands, fire hats, stickers and more. Lewisburg Police K-9 Apollo, 70 ft. bounce houses, the smoke safety house, a mobile ICU, the Fire Dog, MedFlight, the Pink Ribbon Girls fire truck, and other apparatus display provided fun or were on display.
“This past week we had several groups that came to the Fire House — tons of kids. This year, we had more kids than ever at the Fire Station. We feel that is one of the most important things – to try and educate the kids early, so they are aware of what we’re trying to push as far as fire prevention. It is remarkable, because when they came to the Fire Station, a lot of them already had an idea of what we were trying to promote, so we were quite pleased,” Chief BJ Sewert said.
“Basically, what we tried to share with them is: smoke detectors, calling 911, staying low if you have to exit a building, stop, drop, and roll, and right now there is a big push towards keeping your doors shut as you sleep as night. The one thing we really tried to get to them was smoke detectors. They are really important and they save lives,” Sewert said.
“We want the community to know that we are concerned about them. Our number one priority is customer service,” he said. “We feel that if we can get the information out about smoke detectors and 911 and what to do if you have a fire, if it saves one life we have done our job. We are proud of what we’ve done and can continue to do. Hopefully, the message we are trying to promote is received by our community.”
The Gratis Fire Department observed National Fire Prevention Week by hosting a community open house on Oct. 8 at the Gratis Fire House. The department partnered with outside entities including Dayton Children’s Hospital and Premier Health’s CareFlight Air & Mobile, as well as their own local resources and departments to provide the community with fire safety and prevention education.
“We set up activities to teach children how to maneuver safely out of a smoking room, how to form escape plans and recognize available exits out of a room/house, as well as developing a sense of comfort around firefighters to decrease the incidence of hiding or being fearful of a firefighter who is searching for them,” Secretary Sarah Konnagan said.
“Developing a rapport with our community is of great importance to us. It is our hope that educating children in an enjoyable and memorable way gives them the confidence to be able to perform these essential fire safety skills in the event that they’re needed.”
“Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy notes that although people feel safest in their home, it is also the place people are at greatest risk to fire, with four out of five U.S. fire deaths occurring at home. That over-confidence contributes to a complacency toward home escape planning and practice.,” Konnagan said. “Our message to parents is to motivate them to prepare and plan. Form a fire escape plan with your family. Know where your exits are and where your meeting place is. Practice these safety skills, become comfortable with them. These are all potentially life-saving skills that can easily be put into action.”
“If anyone in the community needs assistance or education about these, feel free to contact the Gratis Fire Department and we would be more than happy to help,” she added.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH