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National Fire Prevention Week: Look, Listen and Learn

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Firefighers battle a blaze on Osage Street in December, 2017/ File photo by Norma Jean Shaw

National Fire Prevention Week 2018 kicked off Sunday, Oct. 7 and runs through Saturday, Oct. 13.

According to the National Fire Protection Association website, the NFPA has sponsored the public observance of Fire Prevention Week 1922. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Fire Prevention Week a national observance, making it the longest-running public health observance in the United States.

During Fire Prevention Week, children, adults, and teachers across the nation—and right here in Front Royal and Warren County–learn how to stay safe in the event of a fire. Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires.

Warren County Fire Marshal Gerry Maiatico said in a Friday interview that the 2018 theme is Look, Listen and Learn.

Look
He says there can be fire hazards in the home, and encourages everyone to take a few minutes to check for proper clearance around heating devices, such as space heaters; to clean, inspect and service fireplaces, furnaces, etc.; and of utmost importance, is checking and cleaning each smoke alarm in the home.

If the device needs batteries, replace them, which should be done when the time changes from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time. For detectors that are wired into the electrical systems of the home, ensure that they are no older than 10 years, and test them to ensure that they are working properly. Maiatico also said inspecting fire extinguishers for an expiration is also important. Over time, if not used, the contents may become nonviable.

Listen
The fire marshal said it is vitally important to discuss the sound of smoke alarms with the entire family during a family meeting. Use the test button on your alarms to ensure that everyone knows what the alarm sounds like when it detects smoke or carbon monoxide, make a plan for two ways out of the home in the event of a fire, and plan exit drills.|

Learn
The learning part of Look, Listen and Learn involves practicing the plan devised in your family meeting to get out of the house in the event of a fire. Designate a meeting spot in which the family will meet outside the home. Once the family has practiced the first pathway from the home and is comfortable with the plan, practice the second way out of the home and continue to practice monthly fire drills so that it becomes a familiar routine for everyone.

Maiatico said that as they have in the past, firefighters will again visit public and private schools and daycares, providing in-class visits, educational materials and explaining the importance of fire safety, and the Look, Learn and Listen message.

Something new the Warren County Fire and Rescue Department will try this year is setting up kiosks and information tables at local businesses in the community. The fire marshal said this would allow consumers to interact with fire and rescue staff as they are out running errands, and could potentially bring the fire safety message to more people than they would see by holding a traditional one-day event at a local fire department. There will also be fire safety messages posted across social media platforms, Maiatico said.

He stressed the need for getting the fire safety message out to the public, noting that there had been six significant fires in the last month in Warren County, with four fire-related injuries. While the total number of fires has dropped over last year, fire-related injuries have spiked, according to WCFR statistics.

One of the best ways to ensure surviving a structure fire is to have a working smoke detector. Once again, for National Fire Prevention Week, the WCFR department is offering smoke alarm assistance to Warren County and Front Royal residents.

For those who cannot afford smoke detectors, the department will assess need, and then install the detectors in the resident’s home.  Moreover, if there are residents who may need a hand either checking an existing detector or installing one they have purchased, volunteers will help with that, too.

Maiatico says that firefighters are happy to assist anyone who might need help with installing an alarm. “Our goal”, he said, “is to keep everyone safe and in their comfort zone. Some folks may have the means to purchase a smoke detector, but have no one to install it for them, so we like to help them out with that. Safety of our citizens and fire prevention are our goals!”

Fire Prevention Week is observed each year during the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8, 1871, and caused devastating damage that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres of land.

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