Our Opinion: Firefighting awareness segues into prevention

News Tribune editorial

Out of the fire parade and into fire prevention.

Fire Prevention Week is being observed through Saturday. This year, it comes in the aftermath of the Jefferson City Fire Department’s centennial celebration, which included a downtown parade featuring fire equipment, past and present.

Fire protection has advanced through the years, with new developments in training, technique and technology.

But none of those developments replace proper fire prevention.

Preparation and planning are the first, and best, line of defense against suffering loss from fire.

The emphasis this year is the importance of planning at least two escape routes for you and your family if needed, according to State Fire Marshal Randy Cole.

“Fires can spread rapidly, blocking planned escape routes,” Cole said. “This makes it essential to have at least two quick escapes routes planned in advance from different rooms throughout your home. Having an alternate route in case another route becomes blocked can save lives.”

In addition to developing a plan, Cole suggests practicing it regularly, explaining it to children and revising it as children grow.

Fires are not uncommon. The National Fire Protection Association reported about 369,500 home structure fires occurred in 2010, resulting in 2,640 civilian deaths.

In contrast, escape plans are not common. The association survey revealed 23 percent of U.S. households have developed and practice a fire evacuation plan.

Cole also reiterates the importance of installing and maintaining smoke detectors.

“Working smoke detectors increase your chance of survival by 50 percent,” Cole said, “and are something every household should have.”

Our community recently celebrated the centennial of its local fire department.

Fire Prevention Week provides an ideal opportunity to remain mindful of the danger of residential fires and to bolster safety for you and your loved ones.

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