FIRE PREVENTION WEEK
In their annual effort to emphasize the importance of fire safety and fire prevention to youngsters in schools located within Salisbury Township, firefighters during the week of Oct. 8 took time from work, or other activities to assure the community’s youngest citizens are aware of ways they can help themselves and their families be fire-safe.
National Fire Prevention Week is held annually in early October near the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire.
The Great Chicago Fire was a conflagration which burned Oct. 8 to Oct. 10, 1871. The fire killed up to 300 people, destroyed roughly 3.3 square miles of Chicago, Ill. and left more than 100,000 residents homeless.
National fire officials encourage local fire companies across the country to coordinate their fire safety programs with the nationwide effort to assure maximum impact.
Western Salisbury firefighters have for decades been going into schools in the community to instill fire-safe habits in young students. Those efforts began in the 1960s and are now reaching a third generation of youngsters whose families recall those efforts. Firefighters say they look forward to the opportunity to participate in the fire safety school programs all year. Many schedule their work vacation so they can be part of the mission.
National fire prevention efforts revolve around the theme of “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware that fire can happen anywhere.”
Lead school program presenter for years has been Western Salisbury Chief Joshua Wells. His message varies little. “Don’t play with matches or lighters – make sure there is a working smoke alarm in every bedroom – replenish smoke alarms with fresh batteries each spring and fall when the clocks change – encourage grownups to have home fire drills for the family – learn to stop,drop and roll if clothes catch fire – dial 911 for help – if a fire occurs, get out and stay out.”
To assure children see firefighters as their friends, Wells has members of his crew change from street clothes to full fire turnout gear, then has them crawl through the room giving “high-fives” and repeating to students that “firefighters are your friends, never hide from them because they might look scary in their gear – they are your friends and they are there to help you.”
When weather permits, students go into the school yard to see the fire department’s equipment up close and see firefighters going through their firefighting procedures.
“At community events, it’s not uncommon for parents to approach our firefighters with stories of how their families have positive impressions they carry for years since experiencing their own school programs,” Wells reported.
“That’s why we do what we do,” he said. “Statistics back us up when we say that school fire safety programs help make our community more fire-aware – and more fire-safe.”