Former Smithers and Telkwa mayor Carman Graf (left) in a vintage fire department cruiser at the annual parade held on Main Street August 21 to kick off the 100th Bulkley Valley Exhibition held in Smithers from August 22 to 25. (Trevor Hewitt photo)

Fire dept. wants you to plan your escape

Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 6 - 12

Do you know what to do in case of a fire?

That is the theme for this year’s Fire Protection Week, Oct. 6 – 12.

“Situational awareness is a skill people need to use wherever they go,” said Keith Stecko, fire chief, Smithers Fire Rescue. “No matter where you are, look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately.”

Smithers Fire Rescue is partnering with McDonalds to host a series of public education events in support of this year’s campaign, “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” This will include in-class presentations, and promoting this year’s fire and burn prevention contest for Smithers elementary school students. Firefighters will also be on location at McDonalds from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Oct. 12.

“The campaign works to educate everyone about the small but important actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe,” stated a press release from the fire department.

Data from Statistics Canada (StatCan) shows structure fires declined by 26 per cent between 2005 and 2014.

However, residential fires consistently accounted for roughly six of every 10 structural fires during that period. According to StatCan, cooking equipment and cigarette smokers’ materials caused approximately six of every 10 residential fires.

“These numbers show that home fires continue to pose a significant threat to safety,” said Lorraine Carli, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Escape planning and practice can help you make the most of the time you have, giving everyone enough time to get out. While NFPA and Smithers Fire Rescue are focusing on home fires, these messages apply to virtually any location.”

Tips on the NFPA website include: mapping out the layout of your home, making sure you have an adequate number of working smoke alarms, selecting a meeting place outside the home, making a fire escape checklist and making sure everyone knows how to call 911 from a mobile or neighbour’s phone once safely outside.

Residents can also contact Smithers Fire Rescue at 250-847-2015 (ext. 2) or visit the Town of Smithers website for more information.

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