The week of October 6-12, 2019 is Fire Prevention Week. Since 1922, this event has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls. It is an opportunity to alert and educate the public as to the importance of fire safety and each citizen’s role in fire prevention. Originally, it was a one-day event celebrated on October 9, 1911 on the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire by the group known today as the International Fire Marshals Association. It is held to commemorate firefighters and to advance fire prevention awareness. The observance was extended to a week in a proclamation by President Calvin Coolidge in 1922 and is the longest running public health and safety event on record. Every President of the United States, since 1925, has signed a proclamation declaring a national observance during this week. The 2019 theme for Fire Prevention week is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” Home fires continue to pose a threat. In 2017, U.S. fire departments responded to 357,000 home structure fires. During 2012-2016, an average of seven people died in a home fire each day. The hope of the campaign is to inform the public about these important actions to take to remain safe.
Smoke alarms save lives. The chance of dying in a home fire is cut nearly in half by having a functioning smoke alarm. The majority of these fires occur at night and many believe that they will be awakened by the smell of smoke. However, poisonous gases and smoke can numb the senses and cause a deeper sleep. An alarm can alert occupants to the presence of a fire and allow for an escape. Install smoke alarms on every level and in every sleeping room. Test the alarms each month and change the batteries when daylight savings time occurs. In a typical home fire, there may be only a few minutes to escape safely after the smoke alarm is activated.
Each family should have a home escape plan. This includes properly installed and maintained smoke alarms, two ways out of each room, a meeting place outside the home and a designated person to aid children, older adults and those with disabilities to awaken and leave the home, closing doors as they leave. The plan should be practiced. Then, in case of smoke, go low and get out fast. Never go back for people, pets or possessions. Call 911 from a cell or neighbor’s phone. When away from home and inside a building, look for exits. Immediately leave the area, if an alarm system sounds.
Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and injuries. Unattended cooking in the kitchen is the main reason. Stay in the kitchen if broiling, frying, grilling or boiling food. More cooking equipment fires occur on Thanksgiving Day than any other day. Keep anything that might catch fire away from the stovetop.
During the winter months, heating equipment is one of the leading sources of home fires and space heaters are the most responsible. Use only heaters listed by a qualified testing laboratory. Keep flammable objects at least three feet from fireplaces and other heating equipment. Have furnaces and chimneys cleaned and inspected once a year.
In conjunction with Fire Prevention Week, Orange Fire Marshal Tim Smith has announced that the 2019 Connecticut Fire Prevention Poster Contest, a statewide competition for fourth and fifth graders has begun. The contest is a cooperative effort of elementary school teachers and the sponsors: Connecticut Fire Marshals Association, Office of The State Fire Marshal, Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association, Connecticut Board of Education, Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection and Connecticut FAIR Plan (representing the insurance industry). The theme is “Fire Prevention – Everyone/Everyday”. A winning poster will be chosen from each county and that student will receive a cash award of $150.00. Posters will be exhibited in locations throughout Connecticut, including the State Capitol. From these, one poster will be chosen to be reproduced and distributed as Connecticut’s 2019 Fire Prevention Poster. The statewide winner will be awarded an additional $750.00 and his or her school will receive $500.00. A luncheon, where the state winner is announced, will be held for county winners, parents, teachers, principals, local fire marshals and other guests. Fire safety education is important as a means of preventing injuries, death and economic loss. The contest brings awareness to children, who are a valuable link in the chain of communication; taking information home to the family and suggesting ways to reduce damage and prevent fires. The Orange Fire Marshal’s Office would like to thank the students, administrators and teachers from the Peck Place, Race Brook and Turkey Hill schools for their support and participation.
For any questions regarding fire safety, assistance with changing batteries in existing smoke or carbon monoxide alarms, or help when installing a battery powered detector, please contact the Orange Fire Marshal’s Office at 203-981-4711 Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or visit the website at www.orangefiremarshal.com.