Fire Safety Week: Always have two ways out

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Sunday marks the start of Fire Prevention Week in Oregon, a time of heightened awareness of fire safety and procedures that runs through Oct. 13.

To kick off fire week, firefighters from the Springfield Fire Department held an all-day event at Jerry's Hardware where they taught kids and parents important safety tips.

The theme of this year's fire prevention week is "have two ways out". State Fire Marshal Mark Wallace said that week gives families a good opportunity to make fire escape plans and gain knowledge that can save lives in the event of a fire.

"It's not just having two ways out of your bedroom at home. The larger message is to always notice your two or more ways out throughout your life at work, in businesses, restaurants and other locations." said Oregon State Fire Marshal Mark Wallace. "Families should also be sure to develop a home escape plan and practice it."

Fire Chief Jeff Kronser of Springfield Fire and Safety said that while home escape plans are important, families should never overlook the basics.

"Checking their smoke detectors, that's probably the number one thing that people can do." Kronser said.

Last year in Oregon there were over 4,500 house fires that resulted in 30 deaths, nearly 170 injuries and $64,000,000 in damage. The State Fire Marshal released these safety tips to help reduce those numbers in the coming year:

Make a home fire escape plan today:

  • Draw a map of your home showing doors and windows.
  • Show two ways out of each room.
  • Make sure young children, older adults, and people with disabilities can get out.
  • Agree on a meeting place outside (a safe visible area where firefighters can locate you).
  • Never go back in for people, pets, or personal belongings.
  • Practice your plan at least twice every year during the day and night.

Check your smoke detectors:

Working smoke alarms provide an early warning, allowing you vital minutes to escape, increasing your chances of surviving a fire.

  • To ensure maximum protection, install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • Replace smoke alarms 10 years old or older.
  • Hard-wired alarms (those wired directly into home electrical systems) should have battery back-ups.
  • Never disconnect or remove batteries from smoke alarms for other uses.
  • If your smoke alarm sounds, immediately go outside and stay out. Meet at a safe place and call 9-1-1.
  • If you need assistance with smoke alarms, contact your local fire agency.

For more smoke alarm and fire safety information, contact your local fire agency or visit the state's fire safety website.

Have fire extinguishers / sprinkler system:

Home fire sprinklers and extinguishers are also a great idea to have in the home.

  • Make sure the extinguisher is charged and ready to use.
  • Only have trained adults use the fire extinguisher.
  • Fire extinguishers should be kept in accessible areas.
  • Have one fire extinguisher on each level of your house.

If you are building your own home or remodeling, consider the life saving benefits of home fire sprinklers.

  • Home fire sprinklers can contain and may even extinguish a fire in less time than it would take the fire department to arrive on the scene.
  • Installing both smoke alarms and a fire sprinkler system reduces the risk of death in a home fire by 82%, compared to having neither.
  • In the event of a fire, only the sprinkler closest to the fire activates; sprinklers use a fraction of the water used by fire departments.

For more information on home fire sprinklers visit the OSFM website.

History of Fire Week:

Fire prevention week was sparked from the Great Chicago Fire that began on Oct. 8, 1871 when more than 300 people died and thousands lost their homes. The fire consumed 27 acres of the city in 27 hours. The city bounced back and rebuilt. Shortly after, the citizens of Chicago celebrated their swift recovery every year with festive activities. The Fire Marshal's Association of America, an established branch of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), decided that instead of the festivities it would be advantageous to engage the public on fire prevention tips and safety messages.

President Calvin Coolidge endorsed this effort and proclaiming Fire Prevention Week in October of 1925 noting that 15,000 people in the United States lost their lives from fire related incidents in the previous year.

Each year the NFPA promotes a fire safety theme for emergency responders to promote. This year's theme is to know two ways out.

This information and more can be found at the NFPA website.