RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
Entering an idealistic Sparky the Fire Dog-inspired neighborhood, one would find families who are well aware of fire prevention and fire safety measures. These families have a fire escape plan, have practiced it regularly and do everything they can to avoid home fires. Unfortunately, this is not the case in reality.
During Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9-15, Randolph Air Force Base Fire Emergency Services will team up with the National Fire Protection Association to spread the word on fire safety, urging people to protect their homes and families.
According to the NFPA website, 362,500 home structure fires were reported in the U.S. in 2009, which is the most current year with these statistics. They caused 12,650 injuries, 2,565 deaths and $7.6 billion in direct damage. Additionally, a survey conducted by the NFPA revealed less than one-fourth of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
James Smith, 902nd Civil Engineer Squadron base fire inspector, is on a mission to not only relay the facts and figures to base residents and other home owners, but also to help people understand how much control they have in relation to fire prevention.
"Nearly all of these deaths could have been prevented by taking a few simple precautions like having working smoke alarms and a home fire escape plan, keeping things that can burn away from the stove and always turning off space heaters before going to bed," Smith said.
The theme for 2011's campaign is "Protect Your Family From Fire." It will focus on preventing the leading causes of home fires, including cooking, heating and electrical equipment, candles and smoking materials.
"Fire is a dangerous opponent, but by anticipating the hazards, you are much less likely to be one of the nearly 13,000 people injured in home fires each year," Smith said.
The Randolph Fire Emergency Services released a few tips to help families enforce fire safety.
They include staying in the kitchen while frying, grilling or broiling food, and turning off the stove when left alone; keeping anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment; having a three-foot "kid-free zone" around open fires and space heaters; replacing or repairing damaged or loose electrical cords; smoking outside; using deep, wide ashtrays on a sturdy table; and blowing out all candles when leaving the room or going to bed.
Households that develop fire escape plans and practice them regularly and install smoke alarms are most prepared for fire hazards, Smith said.
Fire Prevention Week at Randolph will spark its activities on Tuesday where several fire drills throughout base facilities will be happen to promote timely evacuation procedures. Firefighters will visit child care programs to teach the children about fire safety and let them meet Sparky the Fire Dog. Firefighters will also be at the BX to share information with base members and visitors.
Randolph firefighters will visit the base elementary on Wednesday to chat with the students about fire safety.
"We want the kids to know they can prevent fires in their homes by being safe," Smith said. "We provide them tips and show them how to escape a fire should one occur. We'll also teach them how to 'stop, drop and roll,' 'crawl low and go,' and about matches, lighters and candle safety."
On Oct. 15, Fire Prevention Week will culminate via an open house at Randolph Fire Emergency Services, Bldg. 700, where displays, educational stations, demonstrations and more family-oriented activities will occur.
For more information on Randolph Fire Prevention Week programs, call Randolph Fire Emergency Services at 652-6915 or stop by Bldg. 700. To learn more about Fire Prevention Week, visit www.firepreventionweek.org.