The Estevan Fire Rescue Service is in the midst of Fire Prevention Week, which is one of its most important weeks of the year.
Activities started on Oct. 7 with a proclamation at the city council meeting. The big activity will be in the evening of Oct. 9, when Estevan and area residents can come in, tour the fire station, meet the firefighters and get to know what they do in the community.
The open house is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
“We’re going to be able to show off the equipment. We’re going to have some activities in the training room, focusing on this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme. This year’s theme ... is Not Every Hero Wears a Cape; Plan and Practise your Escape,” said Fire Chief Dale Feser.
People will be able to view the old fire truck and some of the other antiquities that are on display in the front foyer of the fire hall.
“We’ll have a couple of members up front here, explaining the year, age, vintage and how they used to work and how we used to do things in the past,” said Feser.
They can also take a look at the fire trucks the department currently uses when fighting fires. A miniature firefighting challenge is scheduled so that children can go through the various obstacles and challenges, such as a belly drag and a rope pull, as well as using water from hoses to knock down pylons.
A barbecue will be served, with hot dogs, hamburgers and refreshments available. Proceeds will be donated to Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
“We’re going to run a Fill the Boot campaign, and hopefully that will raise some pretty good money and funds to donate to this particular organization,” said Feser.
Muscular dystrophy has had close ties with fire services for a long time, he said, and fire departments in different locations have different campaigns to support the cause, including boot drives, in which they will stand on a street corner, collecting donations from passing motorists.
The department held a boot drive at a previous open house that raised about $850.
If the weather co-operates, then a vehicle extraction demonstration is scheduled for around 8 p.m. in the outdoor training area at the east end of the property.
Due to staffing constraints this year, the fire department will not be able to get out for the annual door-to-door smoke alarm campaign. But they will be handing out flyers and pamphlets to schools to remind the public about the importance of smoke alarms.
Feser believes this year’s theme fits in with previous themes of finding two ways out of any place where people will be, whether at home or visiting somewhere else.
“Focusing on two ways, obviously the first one would be the doorway and the other one would be the window. Have a safe meeting place outside of the home, so that way family members can take an accountability roll call, make sure that everybody is there, safely and accounted for.”
Once people get outside, they should stay outside. There are a lot of times in which people will try to re-enter a home for personal items or pets, and it leads to them suffering from smoke inhalation or burns.
“We want to make sure that people understand what to do in the case of a fire,” Feser said.
The fire department will also focus on the importance of having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. He pointed out that 10 years is the life expectancy of a smoke alarm or a CO alarm, and people need to make sure their alarms are working and have batteries.
“All of the studies show that working smoke alarms at least cut the risk in half of being injured or killed in a home fire. We want to make sure you’re installing smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of every home, including the basement.”
Smoke alarms should also be hard-wired and interconnected, so that if something happens in the basement, it triggers all of the other alarms in the home.
Cooking will also be a big point of emphasis this year. Feser reminds people to keep an eye on cooking at all times. Unattended cooking is a leading cause of residential fires.
This week is a busy time for the fire department, but Feser believes fire prevention should be a priority every day.
“Fire prevention is always a big emphasis on the second weekend of October. It’s actually the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, so that’s primarily how Fire Prevention Week came about. Every year at this time it happens. We believe, and feel quite strongly, that fire prevention should take place every day of every year, so we always to make sure that we’re getting fire safety messages out there at all times.”