The National Fire Protection Association has been the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for eighty-eight years.  This year’s focus is promoting and educating the public on the use of smoke alarms.  The theme for 2010 is “Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With.” 

Many homes have smoke alarms, but how many of us take the recommended once a month time to check them out? According to the NFPA, there should be a smoke alarm in every bedroom, outside all sleeping areas, on every level, even the basement.  Most homes do not contain that many smoke alarms.  Families should all be aware of escape plans in case of fire. Two/thirds of home fire deaths were a result of fires in the home that either had no smoke detectors at all, or they did not function properly.  NFPA data shows that smoke alarms that work correctly can cut the chance of dying in a home fire by 50%.  You can find more information at the website: http://www.firepreventionweek.org./ If you have smoke alarms and they begin to “chirp,” they are telling you that they need a new battery! 

There can be multiple causes of fires, either at home, work, on the highways, and other locations where accidents occur.  We depend on our firefighters in times of emergency.  They are trained not only to extinguish and contain fires, but to rescue civilians and furnish medical assistance.  Some are paid and others are volunteers.  These public servants are available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.  

We owe it to these men and women to be cautious when camping outdoors.  Wildfires can happen quickly, and cause devastation to homes, humans, wildlife, and miles of terrain.  Firefighters put their lives on the line many times because of someone’s carelessness.  In addition to the responsibilities firemen and women have, they must wear heavy duty PPE, as well.  Like our military, fire personnel have to wear heavy equipment, such as turnout jacket and pants, safety boots, safety glasses, SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus), helmet with face mask/visor, special gloves, a PASS device (personal alert safety system), and reflective vests over their turnout jackets when helping with accident control.

They also conduct inspections of buildings for violations of fire codes.  After a fire, it’s up to fire personnel to conduct investigations to determine the cause.   If you are concerned about the safety of your home, or plan to purchase a home, your fire department will send someone to check it out for you.  Fire departments are helpful to citizens in many ways, such as conducting classes in fire prevention. 

The next time you see a fireman, thank him/her for what they do.  It’s a job that requires a special breed of people, ones who are willing to serve whenever called on.  And remember, think safety always and help prevent fires.