EL CENTRO — It took a whole fire house to answer the call and spark the attention and interest of some young people Saturday during the annual El Centro Fire Department’s Fire Safety Open House. At Fire Station 3, engines were gleaming and the fire house was spotless in anticipation of crowds attending the event.
The El Centro Fire Department worked in association with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which is the official sponsor of the Fire Prevention Week for over 90 years running, and presented this year’s campaign slogan, “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” They showcased the local department while also stressing the importance of making an escape plan and practicing that plan.
According to the NFPA, half of home fire deaths result from fires reported between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and three out of five deaths happen from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. These statistics are alarming, but the NFPA also points out that on average, seven people per day in the U.S. die from home fires and the leading cause of home fire injuries is cooking equipment and heating equipment and the leading cause of home fire deaths is smoking materials.
Ken Herbert, Fire Chief of the El Centro Fire Department, said he encourages all households to develop a plan together and practice it.
A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole, or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home, he said.
“Developing and practicing a home escape plan is like building muscle memory,” said Herbert. “That pre-planning is what everyone will draw upon to snap into action and escape as quickly as possible in the event of a fire.”
Children like Noah Felix and his parents came all the way from Mexicali, to attend the event. Noah was dressed head to toe in his own firefighter coat, trousers and fire structural helmet — just like the real thing. Although this was Noah’s first time, he enjoyed going through all the drills like carrying a ladder and dragging a fire hose a distance, and he breezed through the drills with confidence like a seasoned firefighter.
Four-year-old Fiona Chell from El Centro was on the fire extinguisher drill and learned how to use fire extinguishers while participating at other events at the open house.
“They are learning about fires and extinguishing fires,” said Fiona’s mother. “We have a fire extinguisher at the house, but thank God we have never had to use it. But today, they got to see how one actually works. How to pull the pin, squeeze and they learned the acronym PASS to remember how to use it.”
“One of the favorite displays is the helicopter. The REACH helicopter obviously has become an integral part of the community,” said El Centro Battalion Chief Cedric Ceseña. “Many people see the helicopter flying around, so when they get a chance to go up to the helicopter and touch it and talk to the people that work in it they flock to the helicopter and it’s great.”
Ceseña went on to point out how much the department enjoys sponsoring this event. “We love having the community over at our fire stations to meet our firefighters to see our facilities. It’s great to see them see what their equipment looks like, who their firefighters are, and what their stations look like.”
The National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Prevention week of “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways OUT!” runs from October 8-14, 2017. For more information type: http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/campaigns/fire prevention-week