Take time in October for fire prevention

by Master Sgt. Paul A. Luevano
86th Civil Engineer Squadron

Fire Prevention Week list of activities
» SUNDAY: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., in front of the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center in a smoke trailer. Sparky will be on hand, and there will be a table setup inside handing out promotional items.

» MONDAY: 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at Ramstein Elementary School. There will be group auditorium briefings with Sparky.

» TUESDAY: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Shoppette on Ramstein. We will be handing out flyers and promotional items.

» WEDNESDAY: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Landstuhl Elementary/Middle School. There will be a fire truck, Sparky and promotional items.

» THURSDAY: 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Vogelweh Elementary School. Classes will be visiting Fire Station No. 6. There will be a tour with Sparky and fire department handouts.

» OCT. 11: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Ramstein Enlisted Club. There will be a table with promotional items and Sparky.

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

The KMC fire and emergency services will be out and about Sunday through Oct. 12 to focus on the 2013 Fire Prevention Week theme to prevent kitchen fires.

October’s Fire Prevention Week grew out of the tragic Great Chicago Fire of 1871 where 250 people lost their lives. The origin of the fire is still a mystery, but the legend is on the evening of Oct. 8, 1871, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow knocked over a lantern while being milked. That overturned lantern started a fire that quickly spread through town.

The fire raged for two days, destroying 17,000 structures, 2,000 acres, left 100,000 people homeless and killed 250 people.

The city rebuilt, moved forward and, as a remembrance of the incident, residents held an observance to commemorate the incident. On the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America decided the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire should be observed not with festivities, but in a way that would keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention.

The commemoration continued to grow over the years, and in 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation to be observed on Oct. 9. In 1925 President Calvin Coolidge signed a proclamation to observe the week, Sunday through Saturday, in which Oct. 9 falls. In Coolidge’s proclamation speech he stated, “This waste results from conditions that justify a sense of shame and horror; for the greater part of it could and ought to be prevented … it is highly desirable that every effort be made to reform the conditions that have made possible so vast a destruction of the national wealth.”

Since 1927, the National Fire Prevention Association has developed different themes each year for Fire Prevention Week, on which we focus education efforts. The themes are based on the previous year’s fire trends, and so by analyzing national fire trends we establish ideas and plans to allow us to reduce the chances of a fire.

The NFPA theme for 2013 is “Prevent Kitchen Fires.” According to NFPA, in 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to 370,000 home structure fires. This accounted for 92 percent of all civilian structure fire deaths, and cooking was the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. The kitchen is also the leading area of origin for home structure fires and civilian home fire injuries. So this year, with our focus on this very issue, it is our job to stop accidents through education and public awareness.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind for kitchen fire safety while cooking:

• Always keep a pot holder, oven mitt and lid handy. If a pan of food catches fire, smother the flames by sliding a lid over the fire. Turn off the burner, and prevent flare-ups by leaving the pan covered until it is completely cool. If you encounter an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the oven closed. It is also recommended you always have an ABC fire extinguisher handy.

• Ensure your full attention is given when cooking; most cooking fires start due to items being left unattended.

• Keep the area around the stove clear of debris (dish towels, oven mitts, paper towels). Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stovetop.

• Turn pot handles back to avoid bumps and spills.

• Wipe up spills, and clean your oven. Built-up grease can catch fire.

• When using electrical items for cooking, ensure no cracked or frayed cords.

• Dress for the occasion; avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing when cooking.

• Declare a three-foot “kid-free zone” around your stove while cooking.

For more information, contact the KMC Fire Prevention Office at 480-5940 or 06371-47-5940. If you live on an Army installation, contact Army Fire Prevention at 493-4500. In case of an emergency, dial 1-1-2.