Fire prevention observance planned

Published 4:41 pm Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fire Prevention Week will be observed the week of Oct. 9-15. The Brewton Fire Department and Fire Chief Lawrence Weaver are planning several events to point out the importance of fire prevention.
“The theme of this year’s event is ‘Protect Your Family From Fire’,” Weaver said. “We have planned several programs that we will present to the students in the local schools. On Oct. 13, the fire department will have its trucks downtown in Burnt Corn Park to give away 100 booster seats. The seats are donated by Safe Kids Alabama, and this is something that we have been doing for several years.
“I also want people to know that we have smoke alarms to give away,” he added. “We have done this for several years and anyone within the Brewton city limits can come by the office on St. Nicholas Avenue, and tell a fireman you need a smoke alarm and someone will, not only give you one, but will install it. If anyone needs help to change the battery in the smoke alarm they already have, we will also take care of that.”
Fire Prevention Week was initially established to commemorate the great Chicago fire, the tragic event which began in a barn on Oct. 8, 1871, but did the most damage on Oct. 9, when the fire raged through Chicago killing more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,000 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.
Another fire in northeastern Wisconsin on the same day, did even more damage, when a brush fire burned 16 towns, killed 1,152 people and leveled 1.2 million acres of land.
Even though there were many acts of heroism in both of the fires, the people who survived them never forgot what they had been through. The fires changed the way that firefighters and public officials thought about fire safety. On the 40th anniversary of the Chicago fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America (now the International Fire Marshals Association), decided to remember the day by observing the tragic event in a way that would keep the public informed about fire prevention and safety.
In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation, and since that day, Fire Prevention is observed on the first Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls. It has been a national observance since 1925.
In the United States, someone dies from a home fire roughly every 134 minutes. Although children make up about 9 percent of the population, they account for 17 percent of home fire deaths. Every 30 minutes, a fire department responds to a fire someplace in the nation.
Sometimes it isn’t the fire that account for deaths. Smoke is responsible for three out of four deaths. Smoking is the leading cause of fatal residential building fires.
It’s easier to do something about fire before it kills and destroys. Firefighters everywhere recommend installing smoke detectors in your home, and then test them on a regular basis. Have a fire extinguisher available and know how to use it. Be prepared by making a plan, and be careful with fireplaces.
Never leave the house with a clothes dryer running and keep the lint filter clean and vent them to the outside.
Beware of frayed electrical cords and don’t overload them.
Never leave cooking unattended and have a fire extinguisher available. An electrical coil on the stove reaches 800 degrees and a gas flame goes over 1,000 degrees.
Be careful with children. They are naturally curious and flammable liquids should be stored away from them.
Smokers should never smoke in bed or when they are drinking or tired.