The Edwards Fire Department and Sparky the Fire Dog officially kicked off Fire Prevention Week here Oct. 9, 2012, by hosting a fire safety training day at Branch Elementary School to more than 100 students.
The fire safety training day was just one of the many sites that base firefighters will attend during Fire Prevention Week, which runs this year from Oct. 7 to 13.
“One thing the Department of Defense does is put a lot of focus on fire safety and fire prevention for our base community,” said John Cox, Edwards Air Force Base Fire Department lead firefighter. “It focuses on prevention because it drastically reduces the number of accidental fires, like unattended cooking, playing with matches or lighters and it teaches people of all ages what to do in case of a fire emergency.”
This year’s theme was “Have 2 Ways Out,” which sets the tempo for what firefighters were trying to teach Branch students in addition to other fire safety and prevention techniques.
“Today, we brought a dedicated trailer that was designed and built like a small home. It has a bedroom, a kitchen, a stairwell and a living room, so kids can relate that to their own home environment,” Cox said. “Additionally, we have a smoke generation machine so kids learn how to spot signs of a fire and learn what to do in case of an emergency. We also teach kids how to evacuate their home in case of a fire because we always recommend that they try not to fight a fire on their own.”
In addition to the fire safety training trailer, the team brought out a fire truck to get students acquainted with firefighting gear and handed out informational goodie bags for all who attended. During the day-long event, firefighters informed kids that they should remind their family members to always check the batteries on their home fire detectors, practice safety evacuation routes; practice safe locations to meet and try to make sure that at least each room in their home has a fire detector.
“I think this is a very informative event that the fire department puts on every year and that the children get to experience. It not only shows them a handful of experience, but since it really is hands on, it gives kids much more of an understanding of fire safety and prevention. The kids really enjoy that,” said Alice Dunn, Branch Elementary School teacher. “A lot of parents may be aware of what needs to be done during a fire but they may not discuss it or may forget to talk about it with their children, so an event like this promotes communication about what the kids learn.”
As part of the week-long training, the base fire department will visit the child daycare center, various Family Child Care locations and home schools, to include fire extinguisher training at the commissary and Base Exchange.
“Although this week is dedicated to fire prevention, we always reinforce that fire safety and fire prevention is ongoing,” added Cox.
Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.