At this week’s City Commission meeting, Mayor Craig Cates proclaimed October 7th through the 13th as Fire Prevention Week. and the Key West Fire Department is teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to promote this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.”
The campaign works to educate the public about basic but essential ways to quickly and safely escape a home fire. 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. Knowing how to use that time wisely takes planning and practice.
The Key West Fire Department is hosting a series of events in support of this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Look. Listen. Learn.” including annual visits of fire personnel and apparatus to schools for life safety education, as well as visits to the fire stations from day cares. The Key West Fire Department will also be offering free smoke alarms for homes that do not currently have alarms. These alarms were donated from Margaritaville Resort and Marina of Key West, and Strunk Ace Hardware.
“The Key West Fire Department would like to thank Margaritaville General Manager Diane Schmidt and Strunk Ace Hardware’s Andy Strunk for their generous donations,” said Fire Marshall Danny Blanco as he accepted the Mayor’s proclamation.
NFPA statistics show that the number of U.S. home fires has been steadily declining over the past few decades. However, the death rate per 1000 home fires that are reported to fire departments was 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 1980.
“These numbers show that while we’ve made significant progress in teaching people how to prevent fires from happening, there’s still much more work to do in terms of educating the public about how to protect themselves in the event of one,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “This is particularly critical given the increased speed at which today’s home fires grow and spread.”
Carli also notes that although people feel safest in their home, it is also the place people are at greatest risk to fire, with four out of five U.S. fire deaths occurring at home. That over-confidence contributes to a complacency toward home escape planning and practice.
“Working in the fire service for many years, we know that people often make choices in fire situations that jeopardize their safety or even cost them their lives,” said Blanco. “We need to do a better job of teaching people about the potentially life-saving difference escape planning and practice can make and motivating them to action.”
While NFPA and the Key West Fire Department are focusing on home fires, these fire safety messages apply to virtually anywhere.
“Situational awareness is a skill people need to use wherever they go,” said Blanco. “No matter where you are, look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately.”
Fire Marshal Blanco says this year’s “Look. Listen. Learn.” campaign highlights three steps people can take to help quickly and safely escape a fire:
- Look for places fire could start.
- Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm.
- Learn 2 ways out of every room.
For more information about Fire Prevention Week and home escape planning, visit www.firepreventionweek.org.