The National Fire Protection Association gives reminders on how to protect against fires during Fire Prevention Week every October.
Firefighters are getting the word out about fire safety and this is a time of year when there’s a particularly more intense focus on the subject.
Chuck Kostyk and Mark LaFountain with the Clinton County Firefighters Association addressed the media during a press conference Oct. 6, getting the word out about National Fire Prevention Week. This year’s designated week — sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association — will be Sunday, Oct. 9, through Saturday, Oct. 15, and will include visits to local schools by area firefighters teaching fire safety.
Though National Fire Prevention Week is promoted each year, LaFountain said it’s important to remind the public — especially children — of what to do in the event of a fire and how to prevent one in the first place.
“The best way to save lives is to prevent the fire from happening,” said LaFountain, a member of the Beekmantown Volunteer Fire Department. “And, the more we can get the message out, the safer everyone’s going to be.”
The topics firefighters will be discussing with students will include regularly changing batteries in their home smoke detectors, identifying potential fire hazards and developing an evacuation plan for use in the event of a fire.
“Over the course of the next week, almost every elementary school in the county is going to have some sort of contact from a fire department for fire prevention,” said Kostyk. “We really encourage the parents to talk to their kids about what they’ve learned and ask them questions.”
LaFountain’s hope is that by starting a dialogue about fire safety more families will be prepared in the event of a fire, especially knowing what steps they can take to detect a fire and a plan of action.
“The sooner it can be detected, the better the chance of someone getting out,” said LaFountain.
The concept of teaching fire prevention is important, Kostyk said. Statistics have shown as fire prevention education has been introduced into schools, the number of incidents nationwide has decreased steadily over the past several decades.
“When I started in the fire services about 30 years ago, we had many more structure fires and fire-related incidents,” said Kostyk, who serves as a member of the Cadyville Volunteer Fire Department. “We can thank that in part to better building codes and materials these days, but I think, really, a very large portion of that goes to the focus local fire departments have put on fire prevention. Our kids are better educated than we were when we were in school.”
“What’s great is the kids will pick up on so much stuff that their parents may not know,” added LaFountain, referring to topics like new fire prevention technology and statistics on the types of fires that are most reported in their area. “So, the kids can sometimes educate their parents just as much as the parents can educate their kids.”
Though National Fire Prevention Week is touted once a year, both LaFountain and Kostyk said it’s important for children and adults alike to keep fire safety in mind year-round.
“It’s not just the week it occurs,” said LaFountain. “It’s important to keep an eye out every day for things that violate fire codes or that are unsafe.”
And, when in doubt, the public can always call on their local fire departments to offer their expertise when it comes to what’s safe and what isn’t.
“Most Monday nights, there is someone at our fire stations if anyone has any questions,” said Kostyk.
The Clinton County Firefighters Association will have volunteer firefighters visiting the following schools next week on the following dates: Momot Elementary School, Oct. 11 and 12; Cumberland Head Elementary School, Oct. 13; Northern Adirondack Elementary School, Oct. 14; and Beekmantown Elementary School, Oct. 18.
Any other school or organization that would like a fire prevention visit can contact their local fire department, which would be more than willing to oblige, added LaFountain.
“[The departments] have no problem coming in and educating anyone who asks for the information,” he said.
Did you know?
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on Oct. 8, but continued into and did most of its damage Oct. 9, 1871.