Fire department kicks off fire safety month
Fire safety is often something most people would say is important, but fire safety preparations often fall to the wayside in the midst of busy family schedules.
For Fire Safety Month, which begins the first week in October, Deputy Fire Chief Howie Tighe made a list of recommendations for fire prevention and safety that are of particular interest to Jamestown residents.
A family evacuation plan, in case of emergency, was at the top of Tighe's list. Having two evacuation plans is a good idea, Tighe said, in case one of the exits is blocked by fire.
The deputy chief said that every family should make plans to meet in a designated location should they be required to evacu- ate their home because of a fire or any other emergency situation.
"The idea is to assemble household residents together in one area to account for everyone living in the house. If anyone is missing, it will be immediately known," Tighe said.
He cautioned against making the assembly area anywhere near the house where firefighters or other emergency personnel might be working. "Assemble in an area in the front yard, or near a place where emergency supplies are stored that is away from the main building," Tighe said.
He also said that families should practice their evacuation plan as if it were a fire drill. "It is important for everybody to know what they are supposed to do in an emergency situation," Tighe said. "Just like the firemen practice their drills so there is no confusion when a real emergency occurs, families should practice their emergency evacuation plan."
The most important thing is for families to make a plan and clearly explain to all members how the plan works. "That way everybody is on the same page, and all family members will be accounted for without worrying that one of them is possibly trapped inside a burning building. If anyone is missing, the firemen will know what to do," Tighe said.
The deputy said that all homeowners should display "Tot Finder" stickers on the windows of children's bedrooms. "If a child is missing from the emergency assembly area, firemen will immediately know where to look if a Tot Finder sticker is on the child's bedroom window," Tighe explained. Tot Finder stickers can be picked up free of charge at the fire station Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., Tighe said.
Tighe then went through a fire safety checklist that he emphasized is important for every household. "None takes priority over the other," Tighe said. Everything on this list is important for fire safety and prevention. Adhere to these simple, common sense rules, and everybody will be just a little bit safer.
Before opening any door in a fire, feel the door first at the bottom and then work your hand up the door to see if it is hot. A hot door means there may be a fire on the other side, so try to get out another way.
Stay low to the floor when escaping a fire.
If possible, cover your mouth with a wet cloth to avoid smoke inhalation.
Batteries in smoke and CO2 detectors should be changed twice a year, Tighe said. "We recommend changing them whenever you change your clocks for daylight savings time." Tighe explained that everyone with fuel burning appliances and/or wood burning fireplaces and stoves should have CO2 detectors.
"If you don't know where to place smoke alarms and CO2 detectors, just call the fire department at the non-emergency number, 423-0062 between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and a fireman will come to your house, show you the best locations, and even help with the installation," Tighe said.
Tighe said that house numbers continue to be a problem throughout the island. He asked that all residents display their addresses in minimally 4-inch high numbers that are in an obvious location and easy to read. If your house is off the road down a long driveway or behind hedges, displaying the address on the front door is not going to help firemen trying to find where you live.
If your mailbox sits in a group of three or four other mailboxes and that is the only place your house number is displayed, firemen will not know which house belongs to the mailbox, Tighe said. He recommended putting the number as close to the street as possible, and preferably under a light where it can be easily seen at night.
Another problem that continually arises is the width of driveways. "The new fire trucks and engines are big," Tighe said. "If houses are down lengthy driveways and fire trucks need to drive on the property, the driveway must be wide enough to give the trucks and engines access." The department recommends a minimum of 10- to 12-feet so the big trucks can make the turn from the street.
Every household should have a battery-operated radio in case of an emergency that could require mass evacuation. Flashlights with fresh batteries should also be part of every emergency kit.
Tighe said that the fire department will hold an open house at the end of October to dedicate the two new tanker trucks. The dates will be announced shortly in the Jamestown Press.