CHENANGO – A number of area fire departments and emergency crews are opening their doors to the public this week in hopes of increasing fire safety awareness and renewing community participation.
Fire Prevention Week is a national event designed to inspire public awareness to the common dangers found in every day life. This year’s theme is “Prevent Home Fires.”
The event has taken on additional significance for almost all local departments, explained Norwich Fire Chief Tracy Chawgo.
“Many departments hope new volunteers will take an interest. The Norwich Fire Department and everyone else I know are at an all-time low for manpower,” said the chief.
Many area departments will have recruitment actively going on at their events, but Chawgo says anyone who’s interested should ask any volunteer for information.
“The applications are available at all stations if people just ask,” he said.
Fire Prevention Week began in 1871 when the City of Chicago found itself engulfed in flames on Oct. 8. Almost 300 people were killed and 100,000 left homeless during the inferno that razed 17,000 structures.
“This American tragedy inspired reform across America resulting in new building codes and public awareness of the dangers of fire,” said Chenango County Deputy Fire Coordinator Michael K. Beckwith.
Beckwith said residents should practice fire safety 365 days a year and offered these tips to help reduce the risk of fire.
• When cooking, keep young children and pets away from stove. Use the back burners when possible.
• Keep handles on pots turned in.
• Stay in the kitchen when using the stove. Especially when boiling, frying or grilling food.
• If you smoked do so outside.
• Use only fire-safe cigarettes.
• Keep lighters and matches up and away from children.
• Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn.
• Have your heating equipment and chimney cleaned and inspected each year before use.
• Never leave candles unattended and do not burn them in bedrooms.
• Avoid overloading extension cords and outlets
• Install ground fault circuit interrupter outlets in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoor areas.
• Do not run extension cords across doorways or under carpets.
Beckwith also said the most important thing to do is ensure your home has a working smoke detector. Beckwith said many of the home fires he’s responded to had smoke detectors, but many were not used properly, were unplugged, or had dead batteries.
Detectors should be placed on each floor of your home and outside of sleeping areas. Beckwith said smoke detectors that are more than 10 years old should be replaced. The Chenango County Bureau of Fire recommends that smoke alarms be checked once a month.
“Families should also develop and practice a fire escape plan,” recommended Beckwith, who said this was especially important for families with young children.
“Home fire drills should involve the whole family and occur throughout the year. Make sure everyone knows where the safe meeting spot is, and what your 911 address is. Make sure that your 911 number is displayed so emergency responders can see it from the road. This will speed up their response to you if you should need them,” he said.
Chenango Fire Department’s open houses will be held at their respective stations unless otherwise described.
Open house, 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 8. Fire extinguisher and auto extrication demonstrations, equipment and gear displays, games for kids with prizes, and information on Home Fire Safety.
Open house 6:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Fayette Street station/bus garage, while maintenance is being done on the Main Street Station.
North on St. Hwy. 12B from the traffic light in Earlville, turn left on Fayette Street and Fire Trucks will be visible from the roadway.
Hose demonstration and testing on a fire engine. All other fire apparatus will be on display and kids can climb inside the truck, thermal imaging camera demonstration, recruitment table and free fire prevention calendars and brochures.
Open house, Oct. 8, kicks off with a pancake breakfast starting at 8 a.m. and goes until later in the afternoon.
Open house 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 8. Smokey the Bear will be there along with Oxford’s Fire Prevention Trailer. Fire Fighters will also demonstrate putting out a grease fire. Fire safety handouts will be available children and adults. The Chenango County 911 Dispatch will be on hand.
Open house 6 to 9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 9. Fire truck rides, fire hose and automobile extraction demonstrations, station tours, the station’s mascot, Sparky the Dog will be on hand, light refreshments, a professional contractor will be on available to discuss proper chimney and wood stove use/ installation, City Code Enforcement will be available for questions and the Oxford Fire Prevention Trailer will be attending.
The Oxford Fire Department held its open house last week. The department’s Fire Prevention Trailer was on hand. School children from the Oxford schools and Pumpkin Shell program will be going to the Oxford fire station for safety demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A chicken barbecue and open house was held Sunday. The Oxford Fire Prevention Trailer was on hand.
Open house 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 8.
Open House was Sunday.
The Smyrna’s Fire Department will be putting off its open house until later in the month when the department celebrates its 200th year anniversary Oct. 24.
Open house will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 9. Activities include ladder truck rides, a demonstration using the imaging camera in a smoke-filled room, a turn-out fire gear demonstration, a smoke detector give away and blood pressure checks by an EMS technician. The Oxford Fire Prevention Trailer will be on hand.