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2017-10-12

Fire prevention is the key

Contributed

In Texas, as in the nation, a mix of volunteer and career firefighters staff fire departments. Approximately 70 percent are volunteer departments, in contrast with the approximate 10 percent fire departments that are staffed by career firefighters. About 13 percent of departments statewide are comprised mostly of volunteers, and the remainder are mostly career firefighters. Communities across the state depend upon volunteers to fight fires and save lives, and the trend of their efforts is good. According to the US Fire Administration, there are approximately 350 per thousand fewer fires than a decade ago; and approximately 400 per thousands fewer deaths.
This year, so far, three on-duty firefighters have lost their lives while fighting fires in Texas. Fire Prevention week (Oct. 8-14) is an ideal opportunity to increase public awareness about fire prevention — for the good of our community, and out of respect for the firefighters who respond to fire emergencies. Bandera County Fire Marshall John Stith encourages us all to review or establish emergency action plans to follow in the event of a fire or smoke emergency in our homes or places of business.
“Prevention is the key to surviving a fire and preventing or minimizing loss of property,” Stith said.
Fire Marshal Stith offers the following recommendations:
• Smoke detectors — Make sure smoke detectors are installed in bedrooms and hallways outside the bedroom and make sure they work. Smoke detectors save lives, and as such, Bandera County has a free smoke detector program in place.
• Change batteries annually — One of the best ways to make sure your smoke detector works is to change the batteries on a regular schedule, such as once a year.
• Extension cords — Limit the use of extension cords within your home, and if needed, use cords with circuit breakers incorporated into its design.
• Certified electricians — Have all electrical work completed by a certified electrician.
• Fire extinguisher — Have a working fire extinguisher readily available and know how to properly operate it.
• Evacuation plan — Take the time to make an evacuation plan for your home in the event of a fire, and then practice it. Be sure to have two evacuation routes to get out of the house.
• Close doors — Sleep with bedroom doors closed. Minutes matter during a fire, and a closed door deters the spread of toxic smoke and flames.