Fort McCoy News Oct. 23, 2015

Fort McCoy observes National Fire Prevention Week

BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

The installation's firefighters took the fire-prevention message to the streets, to classrooms, and across post as part of Fort McCoy's observance of National Fire Prevention Week (NFPW) Oct. 4-10.

The week's events, coordinated by Fire Inspector Curt Ladwig of the Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) Fire Department, included an equipment display and information booth at the Exchange; an equipment display near the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; visits with children from the Child Development Center; fire-extinguisher training; fire-evacuation drills; and more. Off post, the fire department's fire-safety trailer supported events in Onalaska; Town of Campbell; Necedah; Mauston; Warrens; Wyeville; and Viroqua, Wis.

Photo 1
Firefighters from the Directorate of Emergency Services Fire Department show members of the installation community one of their fire trucks as part
of an equipment display at the Fort McCoy Exchange parking lot during Fire Prevention Week.
Photo by Scott T. Sturkol


Photo 2
Firefighters Cory Henning and Allen Sheston read a book to children at the Child Development Center as part of Fire Prevention Week activities. Contributed photo

"An observance like this establishes a presence in the community for the fire department and gives us a chance to interact with the public to remind people to be safe and understand fire prevention," said DES Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician Josh Whitehead.

Fire Prevention Week has its roots in the Great Chicago Fire of Oct. 8, 1871. The fire reportedly killed 300 people, left 100,000 homeless, and destroyed more than 17,000 structures. Soon after, a movement began in the U.S. to recognize the importance of fire prevention, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Whitehead, along with DES A-shift Fire Station Chief Mark Wieman, supported the fire-vehicle display at the Exchange parking lot. Wieman said the display, like the entire observance, is a good opportunity to let people see who their firefighters are and learn about what they do as well.

Static displays of equipment allow people to see the trucks up close, Wieman said.

"And while the people are looking at the vehicles, we answer any questions they have and tell them more about fire prevention," Wieman said. "For children, we'll ask them about their fire safety and fire-evacuation plan at home. For adults, we'll pass on to them that they need to remember to check their smoke detectors."

The 2015 NFPW theme is "Hear the Beep, Where You Sleep," meaning it's important to install smoke detectors "in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home, including the basement," the NFPA states on its website, www.nfpa.org. When it comes to smoke alarms, it's about "location, location, location."

Ladwig said fire-prevention awareness must be promoted year-round. Winter brings special considerations, and he offered some tips to remember.

"Winter and the heating season is coming, so remember to install smoke alarms and carbon-monoxide detectors if you don't have any," Ladwig said.

Also, test and change the batteries in both twice a year, which is best remembered during the time change in the spring and fall.

Photo 3
Children from the Child Development
Center receive a tour of the fire
department from firefighter Josh Rowe.

Contributed photo

For heating, Ladwig noted that auxiliary heating appliances, such as space heaters, should be kept a minimum of 36 inches away from any combustible materials. "Dryer vents should be kept clear of snow and ice to prevent heat building back into the dryer," he said.

People should remember important facts about preventing fires during the holiday season as well, Ladwig said.

• Use only approved extension cords for holiday decorating, and remember extension cords are for temporary — not permanent — use.

• Do not place rugs over extension cords, and if the cord is warm to the touch, it means too much current is running through.

• Keep live Christmas trees away from any heat source, and water them daily.

• Limit the use of candles, and remember to extinguish before turning in for the evening.

"The more we stay aware about preventing fires and practicing fire safety, more lives can be saved and injuries prevented," Ladwig said.

The Fort McCoy Fire Department offers fire-extinguisher training for military and government civilian employees and their Families. Also, educational materials and staff are available to support fire-prevention activities throughout the year. In case of a fire emergency, dial 911. For more information about fire prevention, call the fire department at 608-388-4077, or visit the NFPA website at www.nfpa.org.