Holmen (WXOW) – Every year the week of October 9 is Fire Prevention Week across the U.S., commemorating The Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Local fire departments use the week to educate and to connect with residents in an effort to reduce their risk of incidents.
Firefighters put their lives on the line every day, and they say it’s best when they aren’t needed.
“Without a doubt, it’s much better not to have a fire than it is for us to respond to a fire,” Engineer with the Holmen Area Fire Department Phillip Davies describes.
“Fundamentally, I would say the best fire is the one that you don’t have.”
Through the prevention week firefighters like Davies help people take their risk of a fire into their own hands.
“Fire prevention starts in the home and the business, at the school,” Davies explains.
That’s where departments focus their efforts, stressing the importance of preparing homes with things like smoke detectors.
“A fire can go from the size of, say a match or a lighter-sized flame, to a whole room involvement in about three and a half minutes, and that smoke detector will give you the most time,” Kyle Soden, Captain with the La Crosse Area Fire Department, says.
Equipment isn’t the only thing they recommend to residents. Firefighters say planning what you would do in a fire is vital.
“Two o’clock in the morning when your smoke detector goes off is not the time to be formulating an escape plan. I don’t know about you at two o’clock in the morning, but I’m not always as withered as I could be,” Davies advises.
They spend the week helping people develop plans and good habits while furthering the department’s connection to the community.
“It’s a link that you can get with the community that goes a long way towards instilling, we are a community organization, we are part of this community,” Davies elaborates.
If you already have working smoke alarms and an escape plan, sleeping with your door closed can make a difference for even the most prepared.
“It takes almost 20 minutes to burn through, and in that time it’s keeping out the smoke and heat from the fire,” Soden finishes.
To learn more about educational opportunities planned close to you, contact your nearest fire department for specific information.