Every year, fire departments take the opportunity to educate the public during Fire Prevention Week.
From Oct. 9 to 15, firefighters are spreading the word about the 2022 theme - “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), synthetic modern building materials cause today’s homes to burn faster than ever before. Families may have two minutes or less to safely escape a home fire from the moment the smoke alarm sounds.
“In an emergency, time is of the essence,” said Lt. Quinn Segi, who has served with Creston Fire Rescue for the last 10 years. “It’s really hard to think when you’re in an emergency situation. So it’s best to sit down and have a talk with your family in a calm environment to make sure everybody understands what the plan is beforehand.”
To create a good fire escape plan, draw the layout of your home and mark two ways out of each room, including doors and windows. Next, pick an outdoor meeting place at a safe distance from your home and make sure everyone in the family knows where it is. Then, put the plan into practice by holding your own fire drills together.
Pick one day a month to test your smoke alarms. It’s important to ensure smoke alarms are in working order and installed throughout your home - near every sleeping area and on every floor of the house.
Lt. Segi also suggests implementing “close before you doze” to stop the spread of fire. In essence, closing bedroom doors before bed has proven to be an effective barrier against deadly levels of carbon monoxide, heat, and smoke. A closed door can provide more time to respond to the smoke alarm and escape.
“We’ve seen really good results with this actually,” said Segi. “In some structure fires, people have been able to cordon themselves off. A little prevention goes a long way.”
According to NFPA, the majority of home fires start in the kitchen. From 2015 t0 2019, statistics show that 49 per cent of reported home fires were caused by cooking. For this reason, it is advisable to always cook with caution and never leave the stove or oven unattended while turned on.
Lt. Segi said that thanks to the Work Experience Program (WEP), Creston Fire Rescue is well-staffed all year with new firefighters. Currently, six members are learning the ropes in Creston.
“I can tell you firsthand, the level of service has been greatly improved because of this program,” said Segi. “They’re the first line of defense for the valley. The program helps keep our fire station fully staffed during the day. That’s the most difficult time for volunteer fire departments because paid on-call firefighters are away at their jobs that they earn their living with.”
The new recruits spend a year in Creston, before moving on to full-time employment elsewhere. The WEP has a high success rate of placement with firefighters moving on to be hired all across Canada, often in major metropolitan areas such as Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto.
“Very few things in life for is as inspiring as working with people trying to better themselves every day, day in and day out,” said Segi. “It’s a team environment, and we’re training the next generation of the Canadian fire service.”
For more information on fire safety and escape planning, visit www.nfpa.org/fpw.