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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fire prevention lessons aren't just for children

Thursday, September 29, 2011

At the Le Mars Fire-Rescue Department, fire prevention education isn't just one week in October -- it's the whole month.

National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 9-15, but Le Mars firefighters are already gearing up for activities with a pancake and sausage breakfast Sunday, Oct. 2.

"This is how we kick off Fire Prevention Week," said David Schipper, Le Mars Fire-Rescue chief.

Firefighters will be manning the grill from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at Le Mars Fire Station No. 1, 45 First Ave. S.W. A free-will offering will be taken.

Along with food and raffle items, Sunday's activities include a tour of the station.

"We just want everybody to come down and see their firefighters and the building," Schipper said. "We want everybody to see the equipment they helped pay for with their taxes and their donations."

Along with serving breakfast this month, Le Mars firefighters will also be educating youngsters about fire prevention with visits to preschoolers through second graders.

"We will be seeing between 500 to 600 children," Schipper said. "We either go there or some come down to the station."

Children will learn about fire prevention such as what to do if their clothes catch fire -- Stop, Drop and Roll -- and to never go back inside a burning building for any reason, he said.

"That works at home as well in schools," Schipper said. "The kids are pretty smart. They're pretty up on it."

However, it's not only youth who need to be reminded about fire prevention, he said.

"We tell the adults just like the kids," he said. "It's information for anyone, no matter what your age is."

For example, it's important for farmers to have fire extinguishers in their tractors or trucks during harvest.

"I know some farmers have stopped fires that could have been much worse," Schipper said.

It's also important for those in rural areas who want to open burn to have their own fire protection such as a tractor and disc, fire extinguisher or water close-by, he said.

The point of a controlled burn is to control it, Schipper said.

People need also be aware of ways to prevent home fires such as keeping combustibles away from heaters and, most importantly, having working smoke detectors, he said.

"It's a pretty cheap and important investment and it could save your life," the fire-rescue chief said.

Already this year, 108 Iowan lives were saved thanks to smoke detectors, according to information from the state fire marshal's office.

National Fire Prevention Week, which this year has the theme "Protect Your Family From Fire" is also a good time for people to check out their smoke detectors, Schipper said.

That may mean cleaning them by vacuuming or wiping off dust, cobwebs or moisture, which could set detectors off.

People can use Fire Prevention Week as a reminder to change smoke detectors' batteries, although Schipper still encourages doing so when setting clocks at the start and end of daylight saving time.

"You should change batteries in smoke detectors at least once a year," he said. "We recommend twice a year."

Smoke detectors belong in all sleeping rooms and on each level of the home, but not necessarily in the kitchen where cooking food may set them off, Schipper said.

However, he said, fire extinguishers are a necessity in the kitchen.

He recommends people have at least 5-pound ABC fire extinguishers, which means they can be used on all three classes of fires -- paper and wood, flammable liquids or electrical.

Schipper said the month of October and National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9-15, are a good time to educate people in fire prevention measures.

"If you have a question, don't be afraid to call. It's not an embarrassing thing; it's the smart thing to do," Schipper advised. "Be cognizant of fire safety."



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