Rose City firefighters to educate public about prevention and fire safety
Fire Prevention Week runs Oct. 6 to 12
Fire Prevention Officer Andrew Allan, with Welland Fire and Emergency Services, holds an escape plan worksheet that Rose City’s firefighters will hand out to citizens during Fire Prevention Week. – Sarah Ferguson/Torstar
Not every hero wears a cape, or in this case, a firefighter’s uniform.
Andrew Allan, a fire prevention officer with Welland Fire and Emergency Services, said knowing what to do in the event a fire ignites, and having an emergency plan in place to get out safely makes people superheroes.
It’s a message he hopes to share with the community during Fire Prevention Week, which kicks off Sunday and continues until Oct. 12.
“The theme for this year is ‘Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape.’ What that means is the heroes are the people who take time to plan and practise their own fire escape.”
Being a hero when it comes to fire safety also means making sure fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order. Allan said many people don’t realize fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors expire after 10 years, or sometimes sooner. Expiry information should be listed on packaging when these items are purchased.
“The date of expiry is typically printed on the side or the back of an alarm,” Allan said, and noted that working smoke alarms play a huge role in saving peoples’ lives, but it’s not always something that’s top of mind for most people.
“In Canada, most fire deaths occur in the home. The other thing is you have one to two minutes from the time a smoke alarm goes off to escape safely from a burning building,” Allan said.
Rose City’s firefighters are planning visits to schools, homes and community hubs to educate the public about fire safety and prevention.
Allan said firefighters will be out and about performing residential inspections in neighbourhoods, offering fire safety tips and checking smoke alarms and looking for potential fire hazards.
Firefighters will also be standing in front of Canadian Tire and Rona stores in Welland on Oct. 12 to offer tips, show firefighting apparatus and offer giveaways between 9 a.m. and noon.
The main event is Fire Safety for Seniors from 9 a.m. to noon at the Welland Community Wellness Complex, at 145 Lincoln St., on Thursday, Oct. 10.
Plans include an interactive fire safety talk, health and wellness information vendors, giveaways and light refreshments.
While it’s not the first time the fire services department has reached out to seniors to discuss fire safety, Allan said it’s the first time such an event has been planned for the wellness complex.
Carol Sernasie, chair of Welland’s senior citizens advisory committee has called on the committee to help raise awareness about Fire Prevention Week to the senior community.
The committee has agreed to share fire prevention and safety tips in its newsletter, and share flyers with community groups and seniors’ residences.
Sernaise said fire safety is important for people of all ages, but when it comes to living in a seniors’ residence, people should be aware of plans put in place in case of an emergency.
“Where I live, in a seniors’ residence, we have regular fire drills, and new systems have been installed. We have combination smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Periodically, they are all checked and replaced when needed,” Sernaise said.
The committee chair believes fire safety is an age-friendly issue that people from all walks of life should pay attention to.
“It’s all about quality of life, and safe living conditions. (Fire prevention and safety) is all part of that,” Sernaise said.
“We pay a lot of attention to stories about the cost of medicine, availability of medicine and care, so this just fits in right there to make our lives better and more comfortable.”
The leading cause of house fires across North America is leaving cooking food unattended on the stove.
“One of the biggest things we will talk about is fire safety in the kitchen,” Allan said.
“People can easily become distracted by a text, or the doorbell rings and draws you out of the kitchen.”
The fire prevention officer admitted the fire department has responded to calls for assistance because people put pizza boxes in the oven to keep pizza warm or to heat it up.
“That’s something we see a lot of,” he said.
For more information about Fire Prevention Week visit www.firepreventionweek.org.