Coast Guard Fire and Rescue observes fire prevention week

Bill St. Clair, the assistant fire chief at Coast Guard Fire and Rescue in Kodiak, explains the label an instructions on a common household fire extinguisher in Kodiak, Alaska, Oct. 11, 2013. This fire extinguisher in particular is rated to extinguish combustible materials, combustible liquid and electrical fires. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg.

Bill St. Clair, the assistant fire chief at Coast Guard Fire and Rescue in Kodiak, explains the label an instructions on a common household fire extinguisher in Kodiak, Alaska, Oct. 11, 2013. This fire extinguisher in particular is rated to extinguish combustible materials, combustible liquid and electrical fires. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg.

Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the 1871 Great Chicago Fire 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, 1971, but did most of its damage on Oct. 9.

In 1920, former president Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation, and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been nationally observed on the Sunday through Saturday timeframe in which Oct. 9 falls. It stands as the longest running public health and safety observance on record in the nation.

Each year has a different fire prevention theme. In 2012 the public was reminded to ensure that there are always two routes of escape in their home or workplace in the event of a fire. This year’s theme focuses on the various methods of preventing kitchen fires, such as keeping a pot lid close by in order to cover and extinguish an oil fire or turning your burners off if you have to leave the room.

In Kodiak, Alaska, members of Coast Guard Base Kodiak’s Fire and Rescue extend Fire Prevention Week to Fire Prevention Month, partially due to the remoteness of the island and the importance of educating people living in remote areas to be as safe as possible while handling potentially flammable materials.

“During this month we have a lot of school tours,” said Bill St. Clair, the assistant fire chief at Coast Guard Fire and rescue. “In the past week we have had well over 200 school-aged children come through the fire house for safety tours. They learned about preventing kitchen safety, but Stop Drop and Roll as well as other safety procedures. Additionally, they can take home that information and educate their parents.”

Bill St. Clair, the assistant fire chief at Coast Guard Fire and Rescue in Kodiak, displays a type of smoke detector commonly used in the United States Oct. 11, 2013, in Kodiak, Alaska. Most modern models of smoke detectors are designed to not only detect smoke but carbon monoxide as well. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg.

Bill St. Clair, the assistant fire chief at Coast Guard Fire and Rescue in Kodiak, displays a type of smoke detector commonly used in the United States Oct. 11, 2013, in Kodiak, Alaska. Most modern models of smoke detectors are designed to not only detect smoke but carbon monoxide as well. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg.

St. Clair also explained that during this month they host an open house where, in years past, they have received well over 500 in a 4-hour period. The open house shows off both static fire truck displays and allowing participants to engage in controlled, live fire, fire extinguisher training.

“Between school tours, housing inspections and our open house, we probably reach out to more than 2,000 people during the month of October,” said St. Clair.

To the members of Coast Guard Fire and Rescue, one of the reasons that fire prevention week is so important is because of the outreach and messaging it allows them to promote. The unit’s prevention campaign is highly successful and as a result there have only been one or two house fires in the past 10 years.

“Some of these messages might seem basic to us fire fighters,” St. Clair said. “But when we speak to people in the public we find out some of their perceptions or fears. Giving them basic information like how to use a fire extinguisher properly or how to prevent overloading your circuits during Christmas, can help put some of those fears to rest.”

For more information on Fire Prevention Week visit: www.usfa.fema.gov/fpw

Tags: , , , , ,