Hats off to volunteer firefighters
Fire Prevention Week 2010 is being observed this week, Oct. 3-9. The theme for this year is “Smoke Alarms: A sound you can live with!”
Fire Prevention Canada, which is the national voice of fire prevention and education in Canada, was incorporated in 1976.
Since that time, it has served a vital role in increasing visibility and awareness of fire prevention nationally. A couple of points deserve consideration this week. First, this year’s specific focus on smoke alarms is apropos.
We would like to think that in the 21st century few, if any homes, are still smoke alarm free. Such devices do save lives and it is in everybody’s best interest to be as knowledgeable about them as possible.
Incidentally, how conversant is the general public about smoke alarms?
The Fire Prevention Week 2010 kit can be downloaded at http://www.fiprecan.ca/pdf/FPW_Kit_English_Final _2010.pdf. It lists several questions designed to test the reader’s knowledge about smoke alarms.
For example, what is the minimum number of smoke alarms needed in a home? What is the best place to locate them? How long can they be expected to last? How often should they be tested and cleaned? What is the best way to test them?
Knowing the in’s and out’s of smoke alarms can literally mean the difference between life and death. We ignore them at our peril.
Many homeowners have a wise practice of changing smoke alarm batteries when they “spring ahead” and “fall back” each year. Even if the batteries still have some life left in them, new ones should still be inserted at regular intervals, to ensure full benefit.
Second, it can hardly be denied that fire prevention awareness is working. House fires are becoming more and more infrequent. Yes, some fires are still being caused by neglect and unacceptable behaviour. But thankfully their incidence is decreasing.
This is largely the result of the concerted efforts of groups like Fire Prevention Canada to raise public awareness.
But the role played by fire prevention teams everywhere must not be underestimated. The contribution of local volunteer firefighters cannot be overstated.
There are roughly 127,000 or more volunteer firefighters in Canada. All of them together, located in communities from coast to coast, perform an invaluable service by responding to crises. From the north shore of Conception Bay to the south shore of Trinity Bay, volunteer fire departments are at the beck and call of people in distress, whether because of fire or other emergencies. This came through loud and clear during and after Hurricane Igor.
We do well to doff our hats to them for their faithful and selfless service.
Ironically, because they are so conscientious about doing their job, volunteer firefighters may well be working themselves out of a job.
While this appears to be the case, we must not allow ourselves to become lackadaisical in our efforts to preach fire prevention or inured to the factors that do indeed lead to fires. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Nowhere is this more pertinent than in fire prevention. Dear editor,
No longer do the tides flow in Newfoundland, as in the time of EJ Pratt, “ with a lusty stroke of life” running “ within the sluices of men’s hearts.”
No longer do winds blow, as in the time of my father’s youth, “ with a familiar breath holding a partnership with life, resonant with the hopes of spring pungent with the airs of harvest.”
Instead, today our heritage industry has vanished into the mantra of moratorium, whose premiss blames us for the destruction of stocks and punishes us