Every year since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed during the week of October 9 in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire.
The week typically includes several educational activities to help individuals prepare in the event of a fire, however, the Ardmore Fire Department is looking to change things up this year, turning ‘fire prevention week’ into more of a ‘fire prevention month’.
For the past 15 years, AFD Fire Marshall Tim Lee said the department has been using a travel trailer to educate children at various schools on fire safety by simulating emergency fire situations inside.
Beginning Friday, Oct. 11, the Ardmore Fire Department will be bringing these simulations to stage through skits featuring a fire dog, simulated smoke and more.
"I think we’re going to have a lot of fun out there," Lee said. "We’re modeling our stuff after Mustang Fire Department. They’ve been doing this particular thing for about 14 years and them guys, they do a really good job. So we thought we would change it up a little bit and try this and see how it works for us."
Lee said the department will begin by visiting preschools in the Ardmore area and then move its way up through the rest of the grades in the coming weeks. By changing over to skits Lee said the department hopes to increase retention and have more fun with the topic of fire safety.
"It’s an extremely good tool, some of the other departments in the state are going with this and they’re having really good luck with the retention from the fire safety message," Lee said.
In the meantime, volunteer fire departments in Healdton, Springer and Wilson will be borrowing the department’s fire prevention trailer to help teach fire safety in their own communities.
"It’s set up kind of like a house, it’s got a kitchen in it, a bedroom," Lee said. "It’s got a smoke machine in it and they teach them to stay low. The things not to do in a house."
Some of the most important aspects of prevention include creating an escape plan, establishing a meeting place and ensuring that smoke detectors are active, Lee said.
Individuals should change the batteries in their smoke detectors at least twice a year, he said. And having an established meeting place helps everyone know if someone is missing. "If you’re missing somebody, then we’ll be able to go in and look for them— that’s very important," Lee said.
According to a report conducted by the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control in 1970, the number of deaths in house fires used to be extremely high, Lee said. "So we started educating people on what to do and what not to do and that’s when the death toll started to drop," he said. "The more education we get out there, the less fatalities in fires."