Fire stations across the nation want people to hear the beep before they smell the smoke.
That’s why, for National Fire Prevention Week this year, fire departments are emphasizing the importance of working smoke alarms. The theme this year is: “Hear the beep where you sleep. Every bedroom needs a working smoke alarm!”
“It is very important you know how to react when you hear the sound [of a smoke detector],” said Ashley Lopez, spokeswoman for Ocala Fire and Rescue.
“You should always treat every alarm as an emergency, despite the fact of not seeing smoke or not smelling any foul odors. You should always have your family prepared for the worst.”
To that end, OFR will bring smoke detectors to teach children how to recognize the alarm, and will stress the importance of having working smoke alarms in every room in the house, Lopez said.
Having the alarms are the first line of defense against house fires, said Stephen Hesson, Gainesville Fire Rescue’s interim assistant chief.
A study done by the National Fire Protection Agency issued last month showed that between 2009 and 2013, an average of 940 fire deaths per year occurred in homes with no smoke alarms. An additional 510 people per year were fatally injured in homes that had smoke alarms that failed to operate. Power source problems were the leading cause of smoke alarm failures.
A second study performed by the NFPA, also issued last month, reported that half of home fire deaths occur between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., when most people are sleeping.
Throughout this week, GFR will hold two large community events to promote fire safety, as well as smaller presentations, Hesson said.
“It’s quite a bit busier than the typical week for public information,” he said. “[The events are] a venue for delivering our fire safety methods to the community to give citizens the information they need to protect themselves and the community.”
The first event, GFR’s 9th annual Screaming for Safety, will be held Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Kiwanis Safety City, 1025 NE 13th St. This event will feature trick-or-treating, different safety-related stations and a costume contest at 6 p.m.
On Saturday, GFR will hold its Family Safety Expo at Station 3, 900 N. Waldo Road, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event, suitable for kids of all ages, will allow attendees to tour the fire engine, spray the fire hose, take part in demonstrations and more.
Lopez said the OFR will celebrate fire prevention throughout the entire month of October, with the nationwide emphasis being put on this week. The department is pushing the same message as the NFPA.
Lopez said there are 31 events scheduled for this month, most of which involve visiting schools and getting children excited about fire safety and prevention. The team also offers presentations to anyone who reaches out from the community.
Lopez said although the fire department is always ready to respond to an emergency, it is better to never have to respond at all.
“In the past, firefighters were just waiting for a call,” Lopez said. “Now, we’re trying to prevent those calls.”