Helping with Fire Safety

Helping with Fire Safety

4 mins
November 17, 2020

by Noel Barteck

I usually begin this article with: “Many of us on the fire department have noticed a decline in our fire runs in recent years. Some of this may be attributed to our fire prevention inspection program, some perhaps to the increased awareness the public has of safety issues in general.” However, in the recent weeks we, as well as neighboring departments, have experienced a higher than normal volume of fire calls. Just this past week we were paged out early in the morning for a mobile home fire on the east side of Owen. The occupant was able to escape by climbing out of a window.  

An article in the Wisconsin Fire Journal, a publication of the Wisconsin State Firefighters Association, Inc. made me think that perhaps an article in the paper occasionally would make you, who are our greatest ally in fire prevention, aware of safety procedures. Hopefully, it will also make you more aware of the fire inspector’s job and why certain situations are violations of the fire codes.

One of the videos that I use when teaching Fire Safety classes quotes a Past President of the Association of Fire Chiefs.  In his opinion the United States leads the world in fire related incidents, fire injuries and deaths because of a poor attitude toward fire safety. For example, he points out that in England and most of Europe it is considered a crime against society to have a fire. On the other hand, in our country people jump in line to help someone who has had a fire. He feels that most people think fire safety is the job of the fire department, while in reality everyone should be conscious of fire safety at home and at their place of work.

The Middleton Fire Department had a story published in the Wisconsin State Journal discussing a fire in their jurisdiction. A duplex was involved, and a fire was discovered in the neighboring unit by the owner. The smoke alarm had been disabled after the residents had burned a pizza.

If this situation of a fire in a neighboring unit sounds familiar, several years ago residents of an Owen apartment house were able to contain a fire that had broken out in one of the neighboring units. A neighbor noticed smoke coming from one of the apartments in the building. The apartment door was closed and the neighbor left it closed, got out, and called us. The neighbor did everything he should to make sure the fire stayed in the affected apartment. The resident of the apartment was not home, and police and fire department personnel had to force entry. The fire was extinguished with a minimum of damage.

The two morals to this story are: Make sure your smoke alarms have batteries in them and are in working order. Also, if fire should break out, attempt to keep it confined to a small area by closing or keeping closed doors which will prevent its spread.

Those of you who live in apartment complexes in the Owen-Withee area should become familiar with the alarm systems in your buildings. Understand too, that if an alarm should sound it does not automatically call the Fire Department – someone will still need to phone 911 to report the fire. Be pro-active and meet with the other residents of your apartment complex and devise a plan for evacuation of the building, and a meeting place for all to gather so you can determine is everyone made it safely out of the building. Be sure to make provisions for any disabled residents who may need assistance in getting out safely.

The members of the Owen-Withee-Curtiss Community Fire Department applaud you for making fire safety a priority. We would urge all residents of the area to be sure to test smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries at least once a year.

Stay safe! 

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