News>Feature - Fire department teaches fire safety
Children at the Child Development Center greet Sparky the Fire Dog at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 12, 2012. Sparky was visiting all the classes at the CDC during Fire Prevention Week to get the children familiar with him, firemen and fire safety. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Jeffers/Released)
Sparky the Fire Dog visits the Child Development Center during Fire Prevention Week at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 12, 2012. The first Fire Prevention Day was proclaimed in 1920 by President Wilson in remembrance of the tragic Chiago fire in 1871. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Jeffers/Released)
Cornelius Berry, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron fire inspector, gives fire hats to children at the Child Development Center during Fire Prevention Week at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 12, 2012. He was accompanied by Sparky the Fire Dog and they toured the CDC, visiting all of the classrooms. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Jeffers/Released)
Sparky the Fire Dog visits the Child Development Center during Fire Prevention Week at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 12, 2012. Fire Prevention Week held on the week of Oct. 9 every year in remembrance of the tragic Chicago Fire in 1871. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Jeffers/Released)
Children at the Child Development Center greet Sparky the Fire Dog at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 12, 2012. Sparky toured the CDC to help teach the children fire safety techniques during Fire Prevention Week. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Jeffers/Released)
by Airman 1st Class Krystal M. Jeffers
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
10/16/2012 - SHAW AIR FORE BASE, S.C. -- A city of wood grew from a swamp-town around a river in the mid-1800s. A summer that was unusually dry hit the city making and parched the land. Then, as summer transition into winter and the citizens prepared for the cold by gathering firewood and coal, a barn ignited from a spark late in the evening, as explained on the Weather Channel.
It was Oct. 8th when the barn went up in flames. The fire spread north and east through the dry wood city, consuming the heart of the city and destroying the business district. Even the Chicago River burned.
The untamable fire continued until rain fell the morning of Oct. 10. By then there were approximately 300 dead and about 100,000 homeless, according to Chicago Historical Society.
President Wilson proclaimed the first Fire Prevention Day in 1920 in remembrance of the tragic Chicago Fire of 1871. Since then, Fire Prevention Week is held the week of Oct. 9, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
In observance of Fire Prevention Week, Shaw's fire department visited the Child Development Center here and other local schools in the area to teach children fire safety techniques, Oct. 12, 2012.
"It is a yearly event to talk about fire safety, get the children exposed to it and get the parents involved," said Yulanda Richardson, 20th Force Support Squadron Child Development Center director, "If you educate the parent as well as the child, the parent will be (more proactive practicing in fire safety with their family) like making sure their fire extinguishers are updated."
"The teachers talked to the children about different ways to prevent fires, read books to the children about fire prevention, they practiced fire evacuation, and they did "stop, drop and roll" activities," she continued.
The fire department took Sparky the Fire Dog and fire trucks to the schools to familiarize the children with firemen and their equipment.
"The event at the CDC was to get kids familiar with Sparky and then get familiar with fire safety," Cornelius Berry, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron fire inspector. "When they are familiar with Sparky, it is a lot easier to relate to the kids and get our message across."
"It is very important to teach kids fire prevention," he continued. "Kids are curious and they want to experiment and sometimes that's with lighters or matches. Unfortunately, they sometime start fires by being curious so by us going out and teaching them not to play with matches or lighters we can prevent those fires."
Fire safety tips Berry provided include:
· Have an emergency plan and an escape plan and "most importantly, practice the plan so you know exactly what to do."
· Check the fire extinguishers at least once a month.
· Change smoke detectors' batteries every six months and change smoke detectors every 10 years.
· Maintain appliances properly and make sure the lint traps in the dryers are being emptied.
· Keep everything in order and clear out clutter because it is just more things to burn. If things are minimized and kept neat then fires won't be as intense.
· Maintain house wiring and have electrical work done by an approved electrician.
· Maintain a safe distance around space heaters and turn them off when not in use.
"Kitchen fires are the number one cause of most home fires," Berry said. "When you are cooking, never leave the food unattended. Also, if there is a grease fire, never put water on it because it is the most dangerous thing to do. Instead, cover a grease fire with a lid or a wet towel."
"Practicing fire prevention is very important. Fires spread very quickly. In a typical home, an entire room can be consumed by fire from one small spark in three and a half to four minutes. You have to be prepared, have a plan and practice that plan. Make sure all your smoke detectors work, which is most important because they are your first line of defense from a fire," Berry concluded.