Firefighters across the country marked Fire Prevention Week this year by encouraging people to have two ways out to escape injury or death in house fires.
“You want to have an alternate escape route if your primary escape route becomes obstructed or blocked,” said Remo Sambartolo, a fire prevention officer with the Brantford Fire Department. “If you are living in a two-storey house, your first way out is always down the stairs. But if you can’t go down the stairs because they are obstructed by smoke or fire, you will need another way out, such as through a window.
“You have to be prepared for that.”
Sambartolo made the comment as he staffed a Fire Prevention Week display and information booth at the Brantford Public Library main branch this week.
Fire Prevention Week runs across Canada from Oct. 7 until Oct. 13, with local fire departments running public education sessions and events in their communities to promote fire safety.
Nationally, home fires were reported every 85 seconds in 2010 – killing 2,640 people and injuring 13,350, according to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association.
Having two planned ways out is just the first step in developing an effective household fire escape plan.
“Each household should also have and practice a home escape plan,” Sambartolo said.
City fire prevention officer Scott Hardwick said, although the Brantford Fire Department promotes fire safety throughout the year, Fire Prevention Week gives firefighters a chance to highlight its importance.
“Once each year we try to promote fire safety even more by going out and engaging the public,” Hardwick said. “It’s a timely reminder as the weather changes and we spend much more time in our homes. If you have working smoke alarms, you should always be able to get out through your primary exit.”
Fire officials recommend making a home layout map and marking doors and windows that may be used to exit each room.
Families should choose an outdoor meeting place in front of their home and keep an escape plan on the refrigerator, while making a point to practice the plan at least twice each year after sounding a smoke alarm.
On Saturday, the Brantford Fire Department is running a Fire Prevention Week event from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in Harmony Square, featuring fire combat challenges, cooking safety tips and other activities. A 27,000-pound fire truck pull competition, including more than 10 teams of eight people each, will be the highlight of the event.
The County of Brant Fire Department will mark Fire Prevention Week by holding three open houses on Saturday at the Paris, Scotland and Onondaga fire stations.