With an estimated 850 residents in attendance, the Sparks Fire Department held live demonstrations along with fire safety static displays all throughout the morning. Participants were also invited to tour the fire station, try their luck with a raffle and speak with the firefighters.
“National Fire Prevention Week has been going on for many, many years and it’s really kind of turned into Fire Prevention Month,” said Bob King, the Public Information Officer and Fire Marshal of the SFD. “It always starts the first week of October and usually fire departments throughout the country do something with fire prevention involving the community. They go out and teach about fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and fire sprinkler systems. Here, we kick it off with a pancake breakfast and open house. That way people can come to our department and talk with fire fighters, see live demonstrations, get a tour of the station and actually just talk with the firefighters. We just have all kinds of stuff going on. It’s a great opportunity for people to come in and ask any questions that they have.”
For King and the rest of the fire departments around the nation, October provides an exciting and unique opportunity to connect with the community on fire safety.
“This month is really important because that’s our big push,” King said. “I think a lot of people out there have heard about fire prevention week, so they hear that and wonder what it’s about. Then we get out there and educate them. We try to do it throughout the year, but the one month is really important to get a little more aggressive.”
Although the annual breakfast and open house kicked off Fire Prevention Week, the educating is just starting as the theme of the week this year is “Have Two Ways Out,” which the Sparks Fire Department will instruct the public on throughout the month of October.
“The theme this year goes hand-in-hand with our existing Project SAFE Residential Smoke Alarm Program,” King said. “Right now we like to focus on residential smoke alarms because we have the biggest push with that. This month we’ll spend a lot of time just focusing on that, going out and telling people about the precautions needed for smoke alarms in their homes.
“We will be setting up a fire prevention booth at various businesses throughout the month to educate the public about residential smoke alarms, safe evacuation procedures and general fire safety around the home. We have a couple of those in the plans this month. We also have quite a few businesses give a call this time of year to go out and teach them about fire extinguishers and how to evacuate in case of a fire.”
While a call to the fire house normally is not related to something good, the firefighters look forward to the ones that give them a chance to work with the community.
“A lot of people that we see for a second time are always able to tell us what we did last year. If they’re able to do that, then they must have been listening,” King said. “A lot of the kids we see here, they’ll come back and they’ll say ‘Oh, there’s fireman Bob and he told me about this last year,’ and he’ll be telling his friend that. That’s perfect. That means they remembered what we said and that means we got to them, so we must have done it correctly.
“Sometimes people will walk up to you and say ‘From what you told me, I told my friends and now they installed smoke alarms in their homes,’ and that’s my favorite part. When I hear that they’ve actually passed on that education to somebody and it spreads, then I know the word is getting out there. We want to get calls from people saying that they know someone who we installed smoke alarms for and they’d like for us to do that at their house.”